School of Law

Jonas Bley


Postgraduate Research Student

Thesis title:

The UN Model Tax Convention - tax treaties with developing countries


Dr Tom O'Shea

Summary of research:

When it comes to tax treaties and the allocation of taxing rights between States the predominating assumption in literature has always been that developed countries, as capital exporters, favour residence taxation, whereas developing countries, being the capital importers, favour source taxation.

However, this assumption might be too simple as a general rule: The international flow of capital has substantially changed during the last decades and because of the advancing globalization process developed and developing countries nowadays have become tremendously economically interconnected. And when bearing in mind the competition between countries, the link between tax treaties and FDI seems to be even more important. Consequently the transfer of resources, knowledge and technologies into developing countries, the expansion of productive capacity and employment in those countries as well as the establishment of export markets, might be a more valid motive for tax treaties than the allocation of the right to tax the passive income resulting from investments. Not at least, especially with respect to the flow of investments between developed countries and the BRIC states, assuming “upholding source taxing rights” as guiding aim in treaty negotiations might no longer be justified.

The research is designed to update the current perception of the interests of developing countries in double taxation treaties, and to examine, whether the ideas of the UN MC, which are supposed to support the interests of developing countries, are reflected in nowadays tax treaties between developed and developing countries. In addition – bearing in mind that simply focusing on either developed or developing countries would not be appropriate for States that are on the brink to development (such as BRICs) – the research work also tries to reveal to what extent the interests of (former) developing countries change in course of their progressing economic development.


Having worked as tax lawyer for a Big4 in and focussing on Southeast Asia, Jonas Bley has a particular focus on Asian developing countries. His publications include several essays and conference papers on structuring foreign direct investment into Asian developing countries and the ASEAN region. Prior to enrolling as postgraduate research student at QMUL he has been involved in a research project examining the taxation of dividends in tax treaties between developing countries and the G8.