Evading Tax and Avoiding Tax Evasion: for decades British governments have shied away from tackling cross border crime
In the 1920s, an embryonic tax collecting organisation was steadily growing in the US. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) was an agency ignored by the majority of Americans. However, the tide turned in 1931 when the IRS secured the conviction of Chicago gangster Al Capone for tax evasion.
The British Prime Minister Theresa May has called a snap general election. We’d like to share with you the thoughts of Dr Mary Alice Young (Bristol Law School, University of the West of England) and Dr Michael Woodiwiss (Arts and Cultural Industries, University of the West of England) on the implications for the UK’s secrecy jurisdictions or satellite havens and for corruption opportunities globally:
Film maker Michael Oswald and TJN’s John Christensen have co-produced a new film about Britain’s tax haven empire. Titled The Spider’s Web: Britain’s Second Empire, the film is ready for release. It draws heavily on Nick Shaxson’s ground-breaking book Treasure Islands and uses historical footage to show how successive British governments have put tax havenry at the heart of Britain’s development strategy for over half a century.
You can get the opportunity to see this by attending the Tax Justice annual conference GLOBAL TAX JUSTICE AT A CROSSROADS: SOUTHERN LEADERSHIP AND THE CHALLENGES OF TRUMP AND BREXIT in London on 5th and 6th July where we will screen the film. You can register for the conference here. We’ll be publishing the finalised programme of speakers very soon.
As governments (slowly) get to grips with the fact that tax havens are inflicting great harm on economies and democracies across the globe, facilitating mega amounts of tax dodging, and vast movements of criminal money by way of the secrecy services some of them offer, the question of our times is how we deal with them. Attempts to create tax haven blacklists (in order to potentially implement sanctions for non-cooperative jurisdictions) have so far been farcical as we’ve noted many times, most recently commenting on the European Union’s current work compiling its own blacklist system, here and here. So far the criteria for inclusion in tax haven blacklists has been weak, such lists have been ineffective and it’s been far too easy for some of the world’s worst offenders to wriggle their way out of them, or simply be big and bad enough not to worry about being included in the first place – for example – Tax Haven USA. If the EU, or anyone else really wanted to do this properly, the work’s already been done for them – with the best objective ranking available – the Tax Justice Network’s Financial Secrecy Index.
UPDATE: 15 February 2017, London – Bloomberg has reported that the chairman of the EU’s Panama Papers inquiry has criticised the UK Treasury for refusing to meet with its investigatory team during the recent fact-finding visit to London. Read more here.
Last year the Panama Papers scandal shook the world and lifted the lid on murky offshore dealings in spectacular fashion. The political consequences and investigations, criminal and otherwise are far from over. The European Parliament set up the Panama Papers inquiry committee tasked with investigating “alleged contraventions and maladministration in the application by the EU Commission or member states of EU laws on money laundering, tax avoidance and tax evasion.” Today Bloomberg reports that the committee begins a series of ‘secret fact-finding meetings’ in London for two days. It has come to the heart of the beast.