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Estimating tax avoidance: New findings, new questions

By Alex Cobham

There are now a range of estimates of the global scale of tax avoidance. These include:

  • the $600 billion annual tax loss estimated by IMF researchers Crivelli et al. (2015; 2016), which divides roughly into $400 billion of OECD losses and $200 billion elsewhere;
  • the $100 billion annual tax losses that UNCTAD’s World Investment Report 2015 estimated for developing countries due only to conduit FDI investment through ‘tax havens’;
  • the $100 billion to $240 billion globally that OECD researchers estimate;
  • the $130 billion globally that we have estimated as annual losses due to avoidance by US multinationals only; and so on.

Report: new data disproves US corporations’ false narrative on taxes

From Americans for Tax Fairness, a major new report about corporate taxes in the United States. It’s called Corporate Tax Chartbook: How Corporations Rig the Rules to Dodge the Taxes They Owe, and it contains many useful facts, such as this:

  • Corporate profits are way up, and corporate taxes are way down. In 1952, corporate profits were 5.5 percent of the economy, and corporate taxes were 5.9 percent. Today, corporate profits are 8.5 percent of the economy, and corporate taxes are just 1.9 percent of GDP.
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