Thursday, February 14, 2013

Canada's parliament, Yale University, look into tax justice

One, by Dennis Howett of Canadians for Tax Fairness, includes this:
"Tax havens play a key role in facilitating organized crime, the illegal arms trade, bribery and corruption and the financing of terrorism. It is the secrecy of tax havens, not just the low tax regime, that is the main problem in terms of crime. Banking secrecy rules in many of the tax haven countries allow criminals to set up accounts without having to declare the beneficial owner and move huge sums of cash in and out without any scrutiny. This is a perfect system for money laundering.

And we have learned that many of the large banks are complicit in this criminal enterprise. If the government is serious about its tough on crime agenda it needs to take much stronger action to curb the use of tax havens. Jailing the street-level drug dealer for more years will do nothing to curb the drug trade if tax havens are free to help ensure that crime pays (at least for the king pins).

Tax havens are also impoverishing developing countries. It is estimated that tax havens have facilitated illegal capital flight from developing country elites totaling $7.3 to $9.3 trillion of unrecorded offshore wealth in 2010. The same source countries had aggregate gross external debt of $4.08 trillion in 2010 but if wealth hidden abroad by their elites is taken into account they would be creditor, not debtor countries

The size of the tax havens problem is much bigger than you might think and it is growing. We are recommending that the federal government publish an official estimate of the size of the tax evasion and avoidance problem because we feel that if policy makers and political leaders realize how grave the situation is, it will spur them to take more decisive action."
Another, by TJN Senior Adviser Richard Murphy, includes this:
"Secrecy takes many forms. It includes not having to record the real ownership or management of a company with regulatory authorities. It comes from no accounts being required to be placed on public record, or even be made available to authorities because a no tax regime does not require tax returns.

It comes from tier upon tier of structuring in one secrecy jurisdiction after another to create impermeable opacity often combining trusts, companies and foundations.

It can come from Swiss style banking secrecy.

It can come from non-cooperation, whether that be refusal to information exchange or by ensuring that, as the French have found, when information exchange requests are made the data supplied is of limited or no value.

All these things happen, and it is not by chance. It is by design. The intention of tax havens is straightforward: with the aim of luring cash to their banks to support a local financial services sector that appears to create prosperity secrecy jurisdictions sell their right to legislate for the benefit of those who do not live there and who wish not to pay their taxes where they are due including in places like Canada.

The cost is enormous: the Tax Justice Network estimates there is a minimum of US$21 trillion in assets held offshore at present that is not declared for tax purposes. "
In addition to these Canadian developments, TJN will be speaking at this conference at Yale University, looking at similar problems. In country after country, tax justice is going mainstream.


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