This section contains links to articles and documents dealing with various aspects of the history of tax havens (or secrecy jurisdictions) or the field of international tax and regulation more generally. Inaugurated in November 2010, it is starting out as an ad hoc and eclectic mix of articles - but we expect it over time to grow into a useful and varied historical archive.
Articles and online documents
Feb 16, 2013 - A short potted history of offshore, The Economist
Aug 20, 2012 - Ronen Palan: a history of the City of London as an offshore centre. "Britain's Second Empire."
October 4th, 2011 - Financial Secrecy index, including offshore histories of:
- Switzerland (with added technical details here)
- Cayman (more here)
- Luxembourg (more here)
- Hong Kong (more here)
- United States (more here)
- Singapore (more here)
- Jersey (more here)
- The United Kingdom (more here)
- Canada (more here)
- Ireland (more here)
Sept 2011 - No vote, no tax - the Suffragettes and their tax protest
July 2011 - The Swiss Tax Haven in the Interwar Period: an International Comparison, Christophe Farquet
July 2011 - The Ideology of Offshore: how the unthinkable became practice
Dec 2010 - Tax Analysts 40th anniversary commemorative book, where 50 tax folk are invited to answer the question: What is one of the most significant changes to tax administration, practice, or policy that you have seen in your professional career? Available free, here.
Dec 2010 - U.S. tax trends since 1950sl
Oct 2010 - The rise and rise of Britain's tax haven empire. A look at some aspects of Britain's rush to set up and protect Caribbean tax havens from the 1970s.
Oct 2010 - Caroline Doggart, Tax Haven Woman. The story of a woman who became one of the world's first tax haven analysts, working for the Economist Intelligence Unit.
2010 - A history of tax havens, by Ronen Palan. A broad historical overview of the offshore system and its emergence.
Oct 2008 - Short history primer on international tax, New Internationalist magazine
Feb 2008 - This paper by Michael Lennard, The Purpose and Current Status of the United Nations Tax Work, explores the history and role of the United Nations in international taxation, and the current role of the U.N. Tax Committee. It was updated in February 2010, also in the Asia-Pacific Tax Bulletin, here.
June 2007 - Lessons from the last war on tax havens. Marty Sullivan of Tax Analysts looks at the history of the OECD's Harmful Tax Competition project, and how it was killed by lobbyists in Washington and others.
2006 - Taxation and American slavery. Robin Einhorn of the University of California Berkeley traces the roots of anti-tax ideology in American history to disputes about the taxation of slaves as persons and property.
Jan 2005 - Tax avoidance, tax havens and the genesis of the Tax Justice Network - TJN. (NB the contact details provided are now out of date.)
Aug 2003 - a history of information exchange. A United Nations report in the wake of the Monterrey Consensus looking at how, among other things, the OECD stymied efforts by developing countries to get a fairer international tax system. Original document here.
Oct 2002 - No Accounting for Tax Havens.This paper by the Association for Accountancy & Business Affairs (AABA) examines selected issues and episodes in the history of the British Crown Dependency of Jersey. Chapter 6: A Legislature for Hire provides an especially instructive (and important) example of the ways in which private interests shape can shape offshore and onshore legislation.
April 2002 - Délinquance financière et blanchiment des capitaux, a series of reports (in French) from the Assemblée Nationale in France. Focusing on
2000 - The Origins of Swiss Bank Secrecy. The must-read article for those interested in the issue, by Professor Sébastien Guex of the University of Lausanne. Among other things, it demolishes the widely circulated myth that it was set up to help protect German Jews.
April 1998 - OECD report Harmful Tax Competition: an Emerging Global Issue. This report, critical of tax havens and tax competition, was killed by Washington lobbyists and U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill during the administration of George W. Bush. The story of how it was killed is available from a TaxAnalysts book review, here.
Oct 1996 - Appel de Genève. Seven top judges issue a statement - more of a cry of rage - against tax havens.
From 1995 - Taxanalysts Tax History project. With a heavily U.S.-focused view of tax history, it contains much detail about taxation - though relatively little about tax havens. For example: Four Things You Should Know About the Boston Tea Party.
January 1981 - The Gordon Report. Entitled Tax havens and their use by United States taxpayers: an overview, this was the first ever in-depth report on tax havens, by the U.S. Treasury. Highly critical of tax havens, it was published just as Ronald Reagan came to power, and was immediately forgotten about. Available in pdf, text and other versions.
September 1980 - An article looking at transfer pricing and unitary taxation, in the context of U.S. railroads.