Samir’s Selection 06/18/2014 (p.m.)

  • GABRIEL ZUCMAN estimates — conservatively, in his view — that $7.6 trillion — 8 percent of the world’s personal financial wealth — is stashed in tax havens. If all of this illegally hidden money were properly recorded and taxed, global tax revenues would grow by more than $200 billion a year, he believes. And these numbers do not include much larger corporate tax avoidance, which usually follows the letter but hardly the spirit of the law…Mr. Zucman’s tax evasion numbers are big enough to upend common assumptions, like the notion that China has become the world’s “owner” while Europe and America have become large debtors. The idea of the rich world’s indebtedness is “an illusion caused by tax havens” …Only multinational corporations and people with at least $50 million in financial assets usually have the resources to engage in offshore tax evasion. Since the less wealthy continue paying taxes, the practice deepens wealth inequality…He finds it “no coincidence” that the era of widespread tax evasion began in the Reagan era, with the rise of the idea that government is a beast that must be starved…Because large-scale tax evasion skews key economics statistics, it hampers officials’ ability to manage the economy or make policy, Mr. Zucman says. It erodes respect for the law, preventing the government from carrying out one of its essential tasks. And it discourages job creation, since it rewards people and corporations for keeping money overseas, instead of investing it domestically.only an international approach has a chance of stopping tax evasion, he says. Its most important feature would be a global financial registry, which would track wealth ownership in the same way that Americans routinely record real estate holdings now. “If you can’t measure wealth,” Mr. Zucman says, “it’s almost impossible to tax it.” A registry would make it impossible for multinationals to falsely attribute profits to tax havens instead of the countries where the profits should be taxed…What’s beyond question is that there is no economic, political or moral justification for tax evasion — it exists only because of the political influence that wealth buys. A society that fails to fight widespread tax evasion proclaims its own corruption.

    tags: tax taxevasion taxavoidance evidence research economics ThomasPiketty inequality corruption publicpolicy law

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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