We are well aware of the rise of the 1% as the rapid growth of economic inequality has put the majority of the world’s wealth in the pockets of fewer and fewer. One much-discussed solution to this imbalance is to significantly increase the rate at which we tax the wealthy. But with an enormous amount of the world’s wealth hidden in tax havens—in countries like Switzerland, Luxembourg, and the Cayman Islands—this wealth cannot be fully accounted for and taxed fairly. No one, from economists to bankers to politicians, has been able to quantify exactly how much of the world’s assets are currently hidden—until now. Gabriel Zucman is the first economist to offer reliable insight into the actual extent of the world’s money held in tax havens. And it’s staggering. In The Hidden Wealth of Nations, Zucman offers an inventive and sophisticated approach to quantifying how big the problem is, how tax havens work and are organized, and how we can begin to approach a solution. His research reveals that tax havens are a quickly growing danger to the world economy. In the past five years, the amount of wealth in tax havens has increased over 25%—there has never been as much money held offshore as there is today. This hidden wealth accounts for at least $7.6 trillion, equivalent to 8% of the global financial assets of households. Fighting the notion that any attempts to vanquish tax havens are futile, since some countries will always offer more advantageous tax rates than others, as well the counter-argument that since the financial crisis tax havens have disappeared, Zucman shows how both sides are actually very wrong. In The Hidden Wealth of Nations he offers an ambitious agenda for reform, focused on ways in which countries can change the incentives of tax havens. Only by first understanding the enormity of the secret wealth can we begin to estimate the kind of actions that would force tax havens to give up their practices. Zucman’s work has quickly become the gold standard for quantifying the amount of the world’s assets held in havens. In this concise book, he lays out in approachable language how the international banking system works and the dangerous extent to which the large-scale evasion of taxes is undermining the global market as a whole. If we are to find a way to solve the problem of increasing inequality, The Hidden Wealth of Nations is essential reading.
This book sails in uncharted waters. It takes a human rights-based approach to tax havens, and is a detailed analysis of structures and the laws that generate and support these. It makes plain the unscrupulous or merely indifferent ways in which, using tax havens, businesses and individuals systematically undermine and for all practical purposes eliminate access to remedies under international human rights law. It exposes as abusive of human rights a complex structural web of trusts, companies, partnerships, foundations, nominees and fiduciaries; secrecy, immunity and smoke screens. It also lays bare the cynical manipulation by tax havens of traditional legal forms and conventions, and the creation of entities so bizarre and chimeric that they defy classification. Yet from the perspective of the tax havens themselves, these are entirely legitimate; the product of duly enacted domestic laws. This book is not a work of investigative journalism in the style of the Pulitzer Prize-winning authors of The Panama Papers, exposing political or financial corruption, money laundering or the financing of terrorism. All those elements are present of course, but the focus is on international human rights and how tax havens do not merely facilitate but actively connive at their breach. The tax havens are compromising the international human rights legal continuum.
This book offers a comprehensive guide to modern day taxation issues. It presents a thorough overview of many of the crucial aspects of applied taxation and current tax systems, and presents evidence that supports taxation as an important policy issue requiring immediate address globally. Contributions seek to address the core question of how to design a tax policy mix that can serve primarily efficiency, growth and possibly equity goals at a time where fiscal spending, for many economies, is not a viable option. Chapters provide a historical perspective on taxation, then go on to cover aspects of the modern theory of optimal taxation and tax design and provide valuable international perspectives on current tax practices and much required tax reforms. Empirical analysis on taxation and related economic data help the readers to understand how data-based observations and results are linked to the theory of taxation, and more importantly economic growth, before offering appropriate policy prescriptions. This book will be of interest to scholars and practitioners interested in learning more about taxation and why it matters today in the global economy.
For the first time, Human Rights and Tax in an Unequal World brings together works by human rights and tax law experts, to illustrate the linkages between the two fields and to reveal their mutual relevance in tackling economic, social, and political inequalities. Against the backdrop of systemic corporate tax avoidance, the widespread use of tax havens, persistent pressures to embrace austerity policies, and growing gaps between the rich and poor, this book encourages readers to understand fiscal policy as human rights policy, with profound consequences for the wellbeing of citizens around the world. The essays collected examine where the foundational principles of tax law and human rights law intersect and diverge; discuss the cross-border nature and human rights impacts of abusive practices like tax avoidance and evasion; question the role of states in bringing transparency and accountability to tax policies and practices; highlight the responsibility of private sector actors for the consequences of tax laws; and critically evaluate certain domestic tax rules through the lens of equality and non-discrimination. The contributing scholars and practitioners explore how an international human rights framework can anchor debates around international tax reform and domestic fiscal consolidation in existing state obligations. They address what human rights law requires of state tax policies, and what a state's tax laws and loopholes mean for the enjoyment of human rights within and outside its borders. Ultimately, tax and human rights both turn on the relationship between the individual and the state, and thus both fields face crises as the social contract frays and populist, illiberal regimes are on the rise.