In our December 2016 Taxcast: In trusts we trust? We look at the new game in town: beneficial ownership avoidance, the booming industry in alternative escape vehicles from public registers and why we must shine the spotlight on all of them.
Plus: we discuss two big stories we think will define 2017: the race to the bottom between nations on tax aka a transfer of wealth to the corporate community, and how the world’s biggest havens are increasingly having to account for the devastating effect their tax and/or financial secrecy policies are having on human rights around the world… We also report from the appeal of tax justice heroes Antoine Deltour and Rapahel Halet in Luxembourg.
The Tax Justice Network has today released a new report: The case for registering trusts – and how to do it. Many people would have you believe that solving secrecy risks around trusts is impossibly complicated. Now we show it isn’t. Another objection often raised is that it’s not worth the cost. Well, we think it is. And not only that, but technology now makes it affordable. We release our report just as the EU Commission is discussing an amendment to the 4th EU Anti-Money Laundering Directive regarding the registration of trusts and public disclosure.
From the United Nations General Assembly, the fifth report of the Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order. The summary goes like this:
“The report focuses on impacts of taxation on human rights and explores the challenges posed to the international order by widespread tax avoidance, tax evasion, tax fraud and profit shifting, facilitated by bank secrecy and a web of shell companies registered in tax havens. The Independent Expert calls for resolute action by the international community, including through the creation of a United Nations tax cooperation body, the adoption of a United Nations tax convention, the phasing out of tax havens, the revision of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights to include the obligation of corporations to pay their fair share of taxes and the adoption of a financial transactions tax.”
As you can imagine with an introduction like this, here’s a lot of tax justice stuff in here, and TJN gets a number of mentions. It follows our earlier blog on calls by Rafael Correa, head of the G77 group of developing countries, for an international tax body. Among other things, the UN Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order discusses the definition of ‘tax havens’ and refers to TJN’s alternative term ‘secrecy jurisdiction’ while providing further details on TJN’s Financial Secrecy Index (FSI) and the top listed jurisdictions on the FSI 2015 here (p9 and in the annex).
We’ll highlight only this section below for now, which is a recommendation for the following:
The Second International Conference on Beneficial Ownership Registries took place in Buenos Aires on August 31st and September 1st. The event was held again at Argentina’s Central Bank and was co-organized by the Tax Justice Network, Argentina’s General Prosecution Office (Ministerio Público Fiscal), Fundación SES, Latindadd and the Red de Justicia Fiscal LAC. It was sponsored by Argentina’s Anti-corruption Office.
The UK’s All Party Parliamentary Group on Tax has published a report entitled A more responsible global tax system or a ‘sticking plaster’? An examination of the OECD’s Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) process and recommendations. They consulted us (among many others) and the result is a really strong document of tax justice, with significance for all countries, since Britain is such a central player in the global system of tax havens. The APPG’s summary, via email, says: