Global Taxation and the United Nations: A Review of Proposals

Publication Date: May 2002

Publisher: Library of Congress. Congressional Research Service


Research Area: International relations



A discussion of the possibility of the United Nations promoting and planning imposition of international taxation on U.N. member states, including the United States was initiated in response to the March 2002 U.N.-sponsored International Conference on Financing for Development, held in Monterrey, Mexico. While this issue was not specifically on the agenda of the conference, preparations for the meeting included global taxation proposals as a source of "innovative revenue sources of funding." This was the third time within the past decade that a discussion of perceived U.N.-imposed global taxation has received attention in the United States. The first occasion took place after the January 1996 comments by then-U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali suggesting a global tax; the second occurrence was brought about by a recommendation for "taxing the internet" in the 1999 U.N. Development Program (UNDP)-issued Human Development Report. In response to the first two cases, Congress enacted provisions (1) requiring executive branch certification before release of Foreign Operations funds to the United Nations that the United Nations is not involved in any effort to impose or implement taxation on any U.S. person and (2) stating that no funds made available for the United Nations may be used by the United Nations for any activity related to taxation of the internet or international currency transactions.