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.
Coming out of the economic crisis Ireland was one of the best performing economies, with GDP growth rates of 8.5% in 2014 and an extraordinary 26.3% in 2015. But how much of this economic activity was real, and how much a fiction created by Ireland’s tax haven status? A new paper by Heike Joebges of the University of Applied Science in Berlin considers the evidence.
2016 was the year when the world underwent profound political change. Most notably there were a series of political earthquakes in the US and Europe, with the election of Donald Trump and the decision of the UK to exit the European Union.
Going into 2017 these changes look likely to have a deep and lasting impact on tax policy and the distribution of wealth.
In the October 2016 Tax Justice Network podcast: we look at the offshorisation of Iceland’s economy, its collapse and recovery. What are the lessons? Also, Brazil adds Ireland to its tax haven black list and Panama threatens anyone who dares call it a tax haven with a new law…plus more scandal and unique analysis you won’t find anywhere else. Produced by Naomi Fowler for the Tax Justice Network and featuring Sigrun Davidsdottir, journalist, blogger and podcaster, journalist Ingólfur Sigfússon and John Christensen of the Tax Justice Network.
Updated with further information about Brazil’s decision – see below.
From the Financial Times:
More precisely, a group of 185 American CEOs has sent letters, co-ordinated by the Business Roundtable lobby group, to the leaders of 28 EU member states to try and get the European Commission to row back from claiming €13bn in underpaid taxes from Apple. They call the attempt a “grievous self-inflicted wound”.