At the start of 2023, tax policymakers are increasingly contemplating how tax law and policy could bolster U.S. foreign policy goals. The most recent proposals seek to leverage information gathered from tax reporting—what this Essay calls “tax intelligence.” However, front and center in considering how tax intelligence can be used to make foreign policy is a challenge: how that information can make its way through the grinder of our foreign commerce bureaucracy in furtherance of productive outcomes. To address this challenge and amplify the promise of these proposals, this Essay offers four contributions. First, it demonstrates that these proposals make an essential move in tax that is consistent with and reinforcing of a trend in other areas of U.S. geoeconomic strategy: they urge intensified reliance on firms as subjects, inputs, targets, and collaborators in foreign policymaking. Second, it argues that commentators are underselling the intelligence value of reporting. Third, this Essay contends that a better administrative infrastructure is sorely needed for tax as well as for other foreign economic instruments to make these reporting efforts successful. Fourth, this Essay concludes that bringing tax into the toolkit could have an unexpected and ironic normalizing effect on geoeconomic policies in our regulatory system. Given that tax law is itself often considered exceptional, bringing it into the collection of emergency foreign commercial tools is likely to make these tools appear less extraordinary—for better and for worse.
Kathleen Claussen, Tax Intelligence, 72 Duke Law Journal Online 155-175 (2023)