Nick Shaxson ■ “We are not a tax haven.” They all say that
This is slightly updated version of a blog we wrote a while ago: a useful reminder of the theatre of probity that tax havens employ to try and appear clean.
This blogger used to live in South Africa, not long after the end of Apartheid, where one of the common refrains he heard was “I am not a racist, but . . . ” – usually followed by an ugly tirade, demonstrating exactly the opposite proposition.
The point of this little story is not to put down the tremendous strides that South Africa has taken in terms of national reconciliation. The point is to draw attention to a similar turn of phrase: “We are not a tax haven, but . . .”
For good reason, tax havens have a bad name, and the purveyors of offshore murk regularly try to persuade others that theirs is a clean business. Idly searching the internet, it is easy to find countless examples of this, often using the hitherto rather weak efforts of international bodies such as the OECD and the Financial Action Task Force – which have, in effect, legitimised the illegitimate — to support their bogus claims. Usually, the arguments they make are complex, slippery, and need to tread carefully around several large elephants in the room to make their point.
Here are a few examples, all from http://humanrightsfilmnetwork.org/accutane notable dirty-money centres, which seek to bestow upon themselves rather grander names, such as “international financial centre”
Monaco is not a tax haven, but there’s no income tax
Cayman is not a tax haven
Call Ireland a tax haven, and set off storms of protest
It’s official! Jersey is not a tax haven
Delaware is not an international tax haven or facilitator of money laundering
Isle of Man is not a tax haven
The British Virgin Islands: not a tax haven!
Bermuda is not a tax haven . .
Switzerland is not a tax haven: the OECD says so!
Luxembourg is not a tax haven . .
Singapore is not a tax haven, but . . .
Guernsey is not a tax haven . .
Barbados is no tax haven . .
The Netherlands Antilles is not a tax haven.
Malta is not a tax haven. . .
Aruba is not a tax haven . .
Mauritius is not a tax haven, but . . .
Cyprus is not a tax haven
Panama is not a tax haven
This list stops here, simply because this blogger got tired, and needs a cup of tea.
On this evidence, tax havens don’t exist!
Here’s a handy tip: if you want to know if a jurisdiction is a tax haven or not, consult this list, especially if it’s secrecy you’re interested in.
Once again, it’s all part of the essential and strenuous performance of rectitude that they all put on, in order to avoid the taint. Explore all that here.
How a mini movement overturned secret US shell companies
Data havens: how to tackle the new digital race to the bottom
Taxing Wall Street: the Tax Justice Network December 2020 podcast
Researcher vacancies at the Tax Justice Network: Latin America and Francophone Africa
The Corporate Tax Haven Index: a Joint Research Centre audit
How tax havens support fossil fuel companies
The UK’s #ImperialInequalities: Past, present and future
$427bn lost to tax havens every year: landmark study reveals countries’ losses and worst offenders
The State of Tax Justice 2020
20 November 2020