“The Enlightenment and Influence of Social Contract Theory on Taxation” by Hans Gribnau and Jane Frecknall Hughes

On November 25th, 2021, we had a presentation from Hans Gribnau and Jane Frecknall Hughes. They have shared the slides to their presentation for those of us who were keen to review them. Thank you again Hans and Jane for your presentation. Link to the paper and slides can be found below:

Paper https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3963285


Workshop 1 of 3 – Enablers of Financial Crime: Tax, Finance and Societies Monday 30 August 14.00-16.00 BST/09:00-11:00 EST Online via Zoom


In the lead-up to our regular tax discussion group meetings in Michaelmas Term (October 2021), Cambridge Tax co-president May Hen-Smith will be co-organizing a three-part workshop series with Yvette Lind of Copenhagen Business School to stimulate discussions on tax and society issues surrounding financial crime. The workshop is held weekly on Mondays at 14:00-16:00 British Standard Time and open to all. Pre-registration is required and we hope you will be able to join us for this as well as our forthcoming meetings in the new academic year. Further information can be found here: http://talks.cam.ac.uk/talk/index/161734

“Why Is The Tax Law So White?” Presentation by Professor Alice Abreu

In our final talk of the academic year, we will be joined by Professor Alice Abreu of Temple University. Please join us on Thursday 5pm UK time. See “meetings” section for more information or contact Guy Mulley (gevm2@cam.ac.uk) or May Hen-Smith (hmh46@cam.ac.uk) for the link.

In this talk Professor Alice Abreu will link a series of observations: 1) The relative lack of diversity in the US tax bar; 2) The traditional view of the tax law as involving one value – raising revenue – rather than multiple and heterogeneous values, exacerbated by the concept of tax expenditures, which places non-revenue values outside the purview of the tax law; 3) The implicit bias that is baked into the tax law through its privileging of capital and its owners, among other things, producing an Internal Revenue Code that is racially blind but not racially neutral; and 4) How many of the Biden Administration’s legislative proposals, for both individual and corporate taxpayers, might begin to disrupt that, perhaps even leading to the long-term provision of a universal basic income.


Professor Alice Abreu is Professor of Law, and the Director of the Center for Tax Law and Public Policy, at Temple University in Philadelphia. A graduate of Cornell University and Cornell Law School, Professor Abreu has lectured at Harvard and at Yale Law Schools. Professor Abreu began her career in practice and was actively involved with the tax section of the American Bar Association. Professor Abreu’s areas of interest include income tax (both local and international) and the formulation of tax policy. Professor Abreu also has the unusual distinction of having both lectured in and run marathons in Rome. As usual, no prior knowledge of or experience in taxation is necessary in order to attend this meeting of the Cambridge Tax Discussion Group.

“Predatory Cooperation: Racial Capitalism and the Taxation of Cross-Border Transactions” By Professor Steven Dean

This Thursday May 27th, from 17:00-18:00 (GMT) we will have a presentation from Steven Dean, Professor of Law, Brooklyn Law School. See our “Upcoming Talks” section for more information or at http://talks.cam.ac.uk/talk/index/160798

We are delighted to have distinguished legal academic and tax commentator Professor Steven Dean as our speaker, who will be explaining themes of his forthcoming book “Predatory Cooperation: Racial Capitalism and the Taxation of Cross-Border Transactions”.

The rules governing the taxation of cross-border transactions have been re-made, to tame the perceived threat to global markets posed by decolonization and again to tame the perceived threat to the welfare state posed by the lawlessness of those former colonies. In both instances, a subtext of racial anxiety distorted the machinery of cross-border taxation. This book retells the story of cross-border taxation from a new perspective, providing an opportunity to create rules and institutions that serve all rather than reflecting the biases of the few.

Dr Steven Dean is Professor of Law at Brooklyn Law School. He writes, tweets and podcasts about tax law and social enterprise. As well as a substantial body of scholarship on international and corporate taxes, Dr Dean also lectures on personal and income taxes and on tax policy. after an undergraduate degree in Political Economy, Dr Dean gained his J.D. (Doctor of Law) from Yale Law School.

Cambodian Tax – Sovereignty Gained, Sovereignty Lost?

This week we have Adam Glen, member of the Cambodian Department of Taxation Technical Working Group speaking. We look forward to welcoming everyone to this talk on Thursday April 29th, 17:00-18:00 online. Please contact May Hen-Smith (hmh46@cam.ac.uk) or Guy Mulley (gevm2@cam.ac.uk) for the link. More information on other meetings can be found under the “Meetings” tab.


Adam Glen sits in the unique position of being a non-Khmer who has been advising the Cambodian government about the development of the country’s tax system.

For the past 600 years, Cambodia has been attempting to both survive and regain its Sovereignty. For a brief period in the second decade of the 21st century, Cambodia managed to partially reclaim its Sovereignty through the improvement in tax revenue collection due to the successful application of Tax Law. Being a dual currency economy it has not yet achieved Fiscal Sovereignty as it is pegged to the US Dollar but in other aspects Sovereignty was re-established. However, the lack of development in Administrative Law means that events since 2013 have resulted in Sovereignty migrating from the Constitution to the Executive.

Setting his presentation in a geo-political and historical context, Adam will consider the economic, constitutional and legal influences that have helped to shape Cambodia’s emerging tax system.

Speaker Biography:

Adam began his working life as a fraud investigator in Australia, before moving into the IT sector to specialise in corporate governance and regulatory compliance, working in Europe, Russia and the Middle East. Since 2012 he has been helping various departments of the Cambodian government, notably in advising Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) on Tax Law.

Adam started his working life in accountancy with a Chartered Accountant in Australia working on fraud investigation but, when it moved to audit, sanity prevailed and he moved to the UK to serve as an infantry platoon commander in the British Army. After escaping from that job he started work in the IT industry. He spent time in East Europe, Central Europe, Russia and the Middle East supporting subsidiary companies in corporate governance, regulatory compliance and high-value contractual disputes. In 2006, at 56, he attended Edgehill University where he obtained a 1st Class Honours in Law. Subsequently, he presented at the BILETA conference on the technical issues in enforcing copyright law against file-sharers. After working for two questionable Law firms in the UK as a paralegal he decided not to follow a career in Law but rather focus upon applied law.

In 2012 he volunteered with VSO as a Strategic Advisor to the Department of Fisheries in Phnom Phen. His first introduction to Cambodian Law was Cambodian Labour Law and Contract Law while negotiating changes to employment and procurement contracts.

On retirement, he volunteered to help Cambodia NGOs to understand their legal obligations, strategic planning and organisational change. In 2016 he was asked to help NGOs with Cambodian Tax Law and has continued that work. In 2019 he was co-opted by the Ministry of Economy and Finance to sit on a Technical Working Group to examine and advise on Tax Law related to NGOs. He is the only non-Khmer person in that Working Group. From a viewpoint of the development of Cambodia, he tries to restrict his work to advising, educating, knowledge transfer, mentoring and guiding Khmer citizens. He is not paid for any of his work.

In addition to his UK law degree, Adam has completed Diplomas in Cambodian Tax Law and Cambodian Company Law. He lives in Cambodia, his wife is Khmer, he does not speak Khmer and now, after 9 years, speaks broken English and Australian.

“An Intra-Disciplinary Approach To Taxation Research” by Dr Amir Pichhadze

This week, Dr Pichhadze will be identifying and explaining the necessary role of an intra-disciplinary approach to taxation research and analysis. He will use the example of the ‘transfer pricing’ rules, to demonstrate the need for such an approach in delineating transactions. Dr Pichhadze will argue that a tax rule can be applied to a transaction only after the transaction has been correctly delineated. A risk arises in practice that contractual terms may not be correctly analysed by tax jurists, unless they are alert to the need for an intra-disciplinary approach.


Dr Pichhadze is a prolific and energetic thinker in the field of Tax Law. In addition to his undergraduate LLB , he holds an LLM in Taxation from the London School of Economics and an LLM in International Taxation from Michigan Law School, where he also attained his Doctorate. Alongside his extensive academic writing, Dr Pichhadze has been an editor and a referee for numerous law journals. Away from academia Dr Pichhadze has held a Judicial Clerkship at the Tax Court of Canada. Dr Pichhadze is also a talented artist who has received numerous commissions for his work.

See “Meetings” tab for more information. We hope you will join us Thursday March 4th from 17:00-18:00 (GMT). The meeting will be held ONLINE. E-mail May Hen-Smith  hmh46@cam.ac.uk or Guy Mulley gevm2@cam.ac.uk for link

“Tax, The Constitution and Public Law” By Dr Dominic de Cogan

This week we are delighted to have Dr. Dominic de Cogan present his work to our group. As most of you may know, Dominic conceived of and co-founded the Cambridge Tax Discussion Group in October 2015 which eventually formed in to a PhD-student led group. We have been running since then with Dominic’s support and have used the forum to provide thoughtful, cutting-edge and engaging discussions on tax related topics at a very high level; and made accessible to all throughout the University and beyond. Please join us this week in what will be an engaging look at tax from a constitutional and public law perspective.

Summary of talk: Dr Dominic de Cogan, from the Faculty of Law at the University of Cambridge, will give a presentation on “Tax, The Constitution and Public Law”.    Author of Tax Law, State Building and the Constitution, Dominic will be expanding on his 2020 monograph, to address some topical aspects of the discourse on the relationship between tax and the State. From domestic issues, such as devolution in the United Kingdom, to international concerns, such as the taxation of multi-national corporations, Dominic will be challenging our established perspectives. Dominic will also be explaining his current work about the relationship between tax and public law.

See “Meetings” tab for more information. We hope you will join us Thursday February 18th from 17:00-18:00 (GMT). The meeting will be held ONLINE. E-mail May Hen-Smith  hmh46@cam.ac.uk or Guy Mulley gevm2@cam.ac.uk for link

“A Career In Tax Disputes?” presented By Robert Hartley

This week on the Cambridge Tax Group we have a presentation by Robert Hartley. We will begin at our normal time of 17: 00 on Thursday February 4th. We hope you will join us.

Please contact Guy Mulley (gevm2@cam.ac.uk) or May Hen-Smith (hmh46@cam.ac.uk) for access to the meeting link.

Title: A Career In Tax Disputes?

Robert Hartley takes a practical look at tax disputes in the UK over the last twenty years and how tax disputes progress from initial enquiries to resolution. The talk will touch on matters such as developments in the way HMRC approach tax avoidance, evidential issues such as privilege, and the human cost of unresolved tax disputes. This talk is ideal for anyone looking to gain some insight into what a career in tax looks like, or who is considering a career specialising in contentious matters more generally.

Robert Hartley is a partner and solicitor-advocate in the tax disputes team at the (hopefully) well-known firm of Mishcon de Reya LLP. Having graduated from Magdalene College in 1993, he joined the post-graduate Cambridge LLM course the same year. He then worked for a time as a junior barrister before beginning a tax career in 1999 at what is now Hogan Lovells LLP. Alongside his work on a number of high-profile contentious and non-contentious tax matters over the years, he spent a number of years teaching VAT at King’s College London, and specializes in “big ticket” direct and indirect tax disputes. He is not an accountant, but he will work with spreadsheets if he really has to.

“Toward a Fiscal Sociology of Colonialism” by Kyle Willmott

The Cambridge Tax Discussion Group is a PhD student run meeting group with weekly discussions of wide-ranging tax-related topics. We have been meeting weekly during term-time since 2015 and hope to continue with engaging topics that are tax or tangentially tax-related topics! This term, we are meeting fortnightly. We are friendly, open to all and interdisciplinary. We sincerely hope you will join us on our next online meeting which will be on Thursday 21 January at 17:00-18:00 (GMT). See our “Meetings” page for updated talks, links and previous topics covered.

This week’s talk can also be found on talks.cam along with an assortment of university-wide talks: http://talks.cam.ac.uk/talk/index/156064

Abstract: The presentation examines the strategic role of tax in relation to Canada’s colonial administration of Indigenous nations and the broader role of tax in relation to settler colonialism. I will discuss some of the ongoing analytical problems in tax scholarship in relation to colonialism and look to build an approach that focusses on the informal and ideational life of tax. The case study examines the First Nations Financial Transparency Act, which paired ideas about transparency with taxation, accountability, and citizenship. I aim to show how the state bureaucracy aimed to re-make Indigenous political identity around ‘taxpaying’.


About Our Presenter

Kyle Willmott is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Working between political sociology, fiscal sociology, and economic sociology, his research attends to the cultural politics of taxation, Indigenous-settler relations, settler colonialism, and liberalism. His work has been published in Economy and Society and Critical Social Policy. He is Mohawk from the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte First Nation.

More information, including a link to the meeting, can be found here: http://talks.cam.ac.uk/talk/index/156064