author-avatar

John Connor ■ TJN’s response to a paper by two U.S. academics, funded by the tax haven of Jersey and attacking Price of Offshore

DOWNLOAD REPORT
Tax justice reports
Tax justice reports

TJN’s response to a paper by two U.S. academics, funded by the tax haven of Jersey and attacking Price of Offshore

Jersey Finance, the lead lobbying organisation for the British tax haven of Jersey, has sponsored two U.S. academics, Andrew Morriss and Richard Gordon, to produce and publicise a paper which attacks the Tax Justice Network and seeks to attack a report entitled The Price of Offshore Revisited which was prepared for the Tax Justice Network in 2012 by James S. Henry of the Sag Harbor Group in the U.S. and which estimates that there is a roughly $21-32 trillion stock of wealth held offshore, worldwide. This article seeks to provide some balance.

Jersey Finance, the lead lobbying organisation for the British tax haven of Jersey, has sponsored two U.S. academics, Andrew Morriss and Richard Gordon, to produce and publicise a paper which attacks the Tax Justice Network and seeks to attack a report entitled The Price of Offshore Revisited which was prepared for TJN in 2012 by James S. Henry of the Sag Harbor Group in the U.S. and which estimates that there is a roughly $21-32 trillion stock of wealth held offshore, worldwide. Jersey Finance is sponsoring an event in London on Thursday 5th June 2014 to showcase the academics’ “independent” paper attacking the Tax Justice Network.

We welcome any opportunity to debate these crucial issue, and the event in London would have provided us with a wonderful opportunity to showcase and present our estimates. Unfortunately, we have not been invited to provide a balance of views or even to reply to the criticisms and allegations in the paper. This article seeks to provide some balance.

The academics’ paper is an extraordinary, sprawling piece of work containing a long list of challenges to the Tax Justice Network’s estimates, alleging that we are seeking to overplay the size of the problem. Yet it fails to acknowledge crucial elements: including that (a) the methodologies employed by Jim Henry are widely used by specialist researchers, and (b) that several different methodologies were used to triangulate the results, for cross-checking purposes.

The academics quite falsely seek to describe the Tax Justice Network as having a “control first” mindset and frame their paper in the ideological language of anti-regulation, anti-tax libertarianism which is pervasive in the world of offshore tax havens. They do not acknowledge that the policy prescriptions that TJN promotes are predominantly transparency measures, also endorsed by the G8 countries, the G20 countries, and by the OECD.

The academics recruited to Jersey’s cause criticise the Tax Justice Network for poor process. They claim they have tried to contact the Tax Justice Network and Jim Henry, via a research assistant, to discuss the report. Mr Henry is not aware of any enquiry from a research assistant. The Tax Justice Network’s director contact details are published online. He is confident that he personally has not received these enquiries.

A specific criticism related to the availability of the data. Henry is planning to use the datasets and his analysis as the basis for an academic book, with all the relevant associated datasets published online. He has presented his data and findings to scrutiny at several universities.

The academics never gave the Tax Justice Network or Mr. Henry their paper, or a draft or sections of their paper, to discuss. As far as we are aware, they did not attend methodological workshops held to discuss the methods. Given that Jersey Finance has admitted to having “decided to support” the academics’ work, and given that (as we have extensively documented) well-funded tax havens such as Jersey constantly need put on strenuous ‘theatres of probity’ involving denial of their tax haven status — one has to question whether this Alabama paper, which Jersey Finance describes as a “pretty rigorous academic exercise, funded in part by Jersey Finance” involves properly independent academic research.

Key findings

  • Jersey Finance, the lead lobbying organisation for the British tax haven of Jersey, has sponsored two U.S. academics, Andrew Morriss and Richard Gordon, to produce and publicise a paper which attacks the Tax Justice Network and seeks to attack a report entitled The Price of Offshore Revisited which was prepared for Tax Justice Network in 2012 by James S. Henry of the Sag Harbor Group in the U.S. and which estimates that there is a roughly $21-32 trillion stock of wealth held offshore, worldwide
  • Jersey Finance is sponsoring an event in London on Thursday 5th June 2014 to showcase the academics’ “independent” paper attacking Tax Justice Network. Unfortunately, we have not been invited to provide a balance of views or even to reply to the criticisms and allegations in the paper. This article seeks to provide some balance.
  • The academics never gave Tax Justice Network or Mr. Henry their paper, or a draft or sections of their paper, to discuss.
  • The methodologies employed by Jim Henry are widely used by specialist researchers,
  • Several different methodologies were used to triangulate the results, for cross-checking purposes

Key recommendations

Additional resources

Price of offshore revisited: https://www.taxjustice.net/2014/01/17/price-offshore-revisited/

Academic’s pre-print criticising the report: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2348144