No names, please, just the numbers. At least, that's what Reuters offers in a bulletin this morning.
Rich individuals and their families have as much as $32 trillion of hidden financial assets in offshore tax havens, representing up to $280 billion in lost income tax revenues, according to research published on Sunday.
The study estimating the extent of global private financial wealth held in offshore accounts - excluding non-financial assets such as real estate, gold, yachts and racehorses - puts the sum at between $21 and $32 trillion.
The research was carried out for pressure group Tax Justice Network, which campaigns against tax havens, by James Henry, former chief economist at consultants McKinsey & Co.
He used data from the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, United Nations and central banks. ...Reuters/NYT
The report describes these private stashes of trillions as having created "a huge black hole in the world economy."
The Wall Street Journal offers some predictable reactions, most notably from the Cato Institute where "responsibility" is a bad word.
The report considers the impacts of a range of offshore abuses, including unreported capital flows and under-taxed corporate profits. It places considerable blame on big multinational banks and other financial institutions that are integral to the process of shifting money to offshore tax havens.
The “huge, secretive offshore industry has truly become the dark side of globalization,” the report concludes. It urges renewed efforts by developed countries to gain a handle on the problem.
But some tax experts – particularly conservatives – expressed skepticism at the size of the new estimate. Dan Mitchell, a senior fellow at the libertarian Cato Institute, compared the report’s findings to some estimates of climate change.
And Andrew Quinlan, president of the Center for Freedom and Prosperity, a group that promotes international tax competition and financial privacy, said, “Tax Justice Network and other opponents of tax competition assume that all earnings belong first to governments, which is why they seek to prevent even legal wealth management techniques if they result in less money for spend-happy politicians.” ...Wall Street Journal
Somewhere along the line, people on the right got the idea that they grew up to be buccaneers on god's open sea, and the damn government was created by ne'er-do-well weaklings solely in order to confiscate their bounty.