Tackling Tax Havens

Tackling Tax Havens

The billions attracted by tax havens do harm to sending and receiving nations alike

IMF, 2019

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  • Eye Opening
  • Overview
  • Visionary


The term “tax haven” conjures images of mysterious places where elites stash their wealth, but tax avoidance is a global phenomenon. The total amount squirreled away from tax collectors is staggering, as are the forgone government tax receipts: more than $500 billion annually. But the international tax system may be on the verge of significant change, according to journalist Nicholas Shaxson in this eye-opening article. Could a fairer tax allocation framework finally be in sight?


Tax havens let people and corporations evade regulation as well as taxes.

Tax havens aren’t always hidden away in glamorous locales; in fact, they’re fairly common and play a significant role in the global economic system. As of 2017, US Fortune 500 companies were keeping more than $2 trillion in tax havens. And it’s no wonder why: Under the international taxation principle of “arm’s length, separate entity,” a company can move its assets – such as patents, for example – to affiliates in different countries to obtain the most favorable tax treatment. And large corporations aren’t alone in benefiting from tax havens: Estimates suggest that individuals worldwide have up to $36 trillion concealed...

About the Author

Nicholas Shaxson is a financial journalist and the author of The Finance Curse.

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