Globalization Processes and the Continuous Tax Reform: The Argument of Competitiveness in the Discussion of Constitutional Amendments Regarding Taxation and Public Budget in Brazil (1992-2017)

Prof. Francisco Tavares

A wide array of intellectual traditions attribute a decisive, if not central, role to public finances in the historical trajectory of the modern State and of the processes of constitutionalization and democratization (SCHUMPETER, 1991; GOLDSCHEID, 1958; HOFFMAN & NORBERG, 1994; TILLY, 1980; ELIAS, 2011; MARTIN et. Al, 2009). In the legal-philosophical realm, theories of justice and of fundamental rights written under the influence of Rawlsian philosophy have, in recent years, paid particular attention to the fields of taxation (MURPHY & NAGEL, 2002) and government expenditure (HOLMES & SUNSTEIN, 2005). The paper proposed here is anchored in the diverse theoretical landscape aforementioned and intends to, under the lens of fiscal studies, contribute to the understanding of political and decision-making processes in contemporary Brazil. The aim of the research presented in the paper is to clarify the following question: was the idea of competitiveness in Brazil – with the goal of attracting investments and tax bases, or of providing an environment that is comparatively favorable for businesses – somehow present in the interactions in the public sphere, in the Parliament and in the Judiciary Branch, in the context of both legislative process and – when applicable – judicial review of the constitutional amendments regarding fiscal matters, promulgated between 1992 and 2017? The main research technique implemented is the content analysis of the following material: i) initial petitions, decisions and important parts of suits related to the concentrated constitutional review of the Constitutional Amendments that comprise the object of the research; ii) public documents, statements made by leaderships, interviews and similar texts by trade union federations, national employers’ associations and nationwide civil society organizations about the constitutional amendments under analysis; iii) documents and statements from organs such as the IMF, GATT/WTO and World Bank on themes related to the amendments; iv) texts from the amendments’ explanatory statements; v) official statements by political parties and their parliamentary bench on the amendments and; vi) all the opinion texts regarding the amendments, published in two newspapers of nation-wide circulation, namely Folha de São Paulo and O Globo.