Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Forbes: Let's tax offshore wealth sitting in first world banks

"How can we get the world's wealthiest scoundrels--arms dealers, dictators, drug barons, tax evaders--to help us pay for the soaring costs of deficits, disaster relief, climate change and development?" Simple, argues TJN's Jim Henry, in this article in Forbes Magazine: "levy a modest withholding tax on untaxed private offshore loot."

Jim, whose forthcoming Pirate Banking we await with great anticipation, estimates the volume of private wealth sitting offshore, entirely untaxed at somewhere between US$15 to 20 trillion. Three-quarters of that wealth is managed by the top 50 or so North American or European banks. Tax evasion cannot happen on that scale without the complicity of these banks, which make extraordinary profits from "wealth management" -- read "providing tax evasion services" -- on their client's behalves.

The vast majority of this wealth, 95 percent according to Jim, is concentrated in the hands of around 10 million hen-wees (high net-worth individuals), few of whom would squeal if a wealth tax of a mere 0.5 percent was imposed annually on their offshore loot. Greed, however, is a funny thing: despite the fact that the vast majority of people are having higher taxes and public service cuts imposed on them by governments that lack the courage and integrity to tackle massive inequality and tax injustice, hen-wees see themselves as a class apart, without obligations or responsibilities to the societies from which they derive their largely unearned wealth.

You can read Jim's article here.


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