The End of Tax Havens?

Lukas Hakelberg and Thomas Rixen from COFFERS working package 3 at the University of Bamberg wrote an accessible popular science piece on the purported end of tax havens for the social science supplement of the German Bundestag’s weekly newspaper (Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte).

They show how tax competition and tax havens emerged after governments had removed institutional barriers to international capital mobility but failed to harmonize their tax policies accordingly. By defending their de jure sovereignty in tax policymaking, governments unleashed competitive pressures that still limit their de facto sovereignty in the taxation of capital.

International initiatives towards more cooperation in tax matters have only been successful, where affected interest groups in powerful OECD countries lacked influence on the political process. This explains why we have recently seen progress – brought about by coercive pressure – in the fight against tax evasion by households, but relatively little change in the fight against tax avoidance by multinational firms.

You can read the full piece here (in German).

COFFERS Markus Meinzer featured in ‘Die Story’ at WDR

The European Union’s competition commissioner Ms Vestager sent a welcome, yet shocking wave around the globe when it ruled in 2016  that Apple has to pay around € 13bn in back taxes due to illegal state aid granted by the Irish fisk to the multinational.

This documentary portrays the intriguing experience by an association of small business owners in Germany who set out to use similar tax avoidance tricks as large multinational corporations do. It also discusses some of the the potential solutions for tackling the issues, including the proposal for public country by country reporting, a policy featuring centrally on COFFERS’ research and the EU’s current political agenda.

Available here at WDR here

Featuring COFFERS’ Markus Meinzer, working package 2 leader at [24:39-25:29; 36:18-36.58; 39:56-40:30]

Loopholes in German draft law regarding beneficial ownership registration likely in breach of the 4th EU Anti-Money Laundering Directive

As the German legislative process for the implementation of the 4th EU anti-money laundering directive hits the home straight, the draft law has become under increasing pressure from researchers and civil society. In a public hearing in the finance committee of the German Bundestag on Monday, 24th April, Tax Justice Network, Transparency International and others testified to the urgent need of improvements of the current legal text. TJN’s written statement can be read and downloaded here. Continue reading “Loopholes in German draft law regarding beneficial ownership registration likely in breach of the 4th EU Anti-Money Laundering Directive”

Participation by Petr Janský in workshop on International corporate tax avoidance

On 16 May 2017 Petr Janský took part in an annual workshop in Prague on tax havens for academic and private-sector experts as well as public officials (see http://danoveraje.pef.czu.cz/, in Czech, for details).

In his presentation titled “International corporate tax avoidance” he presented some research carried out within the COFFERS project as well as some earlier research findings relating to the scale of tax havens’ impact. A section of his talk presented a draft of a paper called “Estimating the scale of corporate profit shifting: Tax revenue losses related to foreign direct investment” written jointly with another COFFERS team member, Miroslav Palanský. The paper uses bilateral foreign direct investment data to estimate, at country level, tax revenue losses that result from some corporate profit shifting practices.

 

University of Limerick by Sheila Killian present COFFERS on Irish news

The work of the University of Limerick team on Work package 5 of COFFERS was covered extensively on Irish national and local media in April 2017.

An interview with WP leader Sheila Killian was covered in the main business segment of Morning Ireland, on RTE Radio One, the main radio station of Ireland’s national broadcaster, and in the Irish Times.

Similar interviews were also included in local Limerick press (The Limerick Leader and Limerick Live95FM)

Link for the Irish Times can be found here

And link for Morning Ireland can be found here

 

Panama Papers: Who were the big players?

The Panama Papers revealed a systemic challenge to global governance, in which the big players are major banks, multinationals and the biggest financial centres of all. Unsurprisingly, much of the coverage of the Panama Papers focused on juicy, individual stories: political conflicts of interest, criminal money laundering and HNWI tax evasion in exotic locations. But when you look at all the data, you see a different picture.

With a few friends of TJN, we’ve been running some of the numbers on Panama, to see just where this small jurisdiction fits in the global game. The picture is inevitably partial – a leak from Jersey or Delaware would show other angles. But what is revealed is a clear snapshot of one part of the systemic business making use of secrecy. Not necessarily for corrupt purposes… but when your business is not engaged in some sort of unsavoury activity, you don’t need secrecy, so the use of secrecy is a pretty good red flag for further investigation.

Read the full blog post from TJN here

CBS/COFFERS PhD fellow Saila Stausholm presented at the IMF

CBS/COFFERS PhD fellow Saila Stausholm went to the IMF in Washington, D.C. to give a presentation about her paper on tax incentives, entitled “Give us a break: the impact of tax holidays on developing countries”. Her research looks at the phenomenon of tax holidays and its effect on developing countries in terms of economic and social outcomes. In the presentation she showed how new data documents a recent increase in the use of tax holidays throughout all four regions surveyed: Latin America, Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. She presented her finding that the effect of tax holidays on FDI is negligible and decreasing, and importantly, that the attracted FDI does not translate into neither real capital accumulation nor economic growth. Her research shows that tax holidays are negatively correlated with tax revenues, and as revenues go down, spending on education decreases. This indicates that there is a race to the bottom when it comes to tax incentives and the competition for investment, which may act as a transfer mechanism from the poor to the pockets of corporations.

The animated map shows how the use of tax holidays changes over the course of the period surveyed – red indicating that the country offers a tax holiday, and green that they do not (white that they are not in the sample). There is a lot of variation over time and across regions, however, over the last 5 years the use of tax holidays has been increasing in all parts of the developing world.

Karin Heitzmann visits COFFERS team at USE

Prof. Karin Heitzmann, co-director of the Institute for Inequality INEQ from the Wirtschaftsuniversität Vienna, visited COFFERS on Friday 24th of February 2017. She presented her latest work on inequality and the latest OECD data on inequality where she had been involved.

COFFERS will cooperate with INEQ for data on inequality.

COFFERS team meeting in Vienna on March 8th 2017

For the second time, the steering committee of the COFFERS team met for a workshop in Vienna the 8th of March 2017. Located in the Biedermeier Mercure Hotel, the team discussed new theoretical approaches to ecosystem analysis and its application for COFFERS. The Workshop leaders presented their former and future work plans. Ronen Palan, Lucia Flores Rossel and Peter Gerbrands presented theoretical findings related to Working Package 1 (theoretical background) and Working Package 6 (policy evaluation).