Tag Archives: Panama

Tax Haven or Tax Heaven 2: Tax Havens and the "poaching" of capital – theft or competition?

Introduction …

On the campaign, I used to talk about the outrage of a building in the Cayman Islands that had over 12,000 business — businesses claim this building as their headquarters.  And I’ve said before, either this is the largest building in the world or the largest tax scam in the world.
President – Barack Obama – May 4, 2009

What about Nevada, Delaware, Wyoming and S. 871 of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code?
“Tax Haven” or “Tax Heaven” – it’s a question of perspective …

This is the second of my posts about the “Panama Papers” and the question of “Tax Havens”. The first was:
Tax Haven or Tax Heaven 1: Fran Hendy and Barrie McKenna see “Panama Privacy Leak” as about more than #offshore witch hunt
The “Panama Papers” has generated discussion about “tax havens”, “tax evasion” and “international tax policy”.  The revelations included (“surprise, surprise”) that many of the accounts were NOT held by residents of Panama, but by residents of other nations. There is nothing that is “per se” illegal about having “offshore accounts”. In fact “offshore accounts” are (even for U.S. citizens) perfectly legal. U.S. citizens are required to report these accounts (FBAR anyone?) to the U.S. Government. The failure to report these accounts may (but not must) result in the imposition of draconian penalties.
Given that the “offshore accounts” are (in general) legal, the problems arising from “offshore accounts” are NOT the result of a lack of compliance with the law, but rather WITH compliance with the law. In other words, “For Good and Evil“, the use of offshore accounts  is the result of compliance with existing law. Perhaps the problem (if you agree that there is one) is the result of the system itself and NOT with bad actors in the system.
The system, the participants and participants in the system

The above tweet references an article that appeared in the Globe and Mail on April 9, 2016 by University of Montreal Professor Peter Dietsch. The article is interesting (whether you agree with the author or not) because the author equates the concept of a “Tax Haven” with the concept of “capital poaching” (the attempt to attract capital).
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