The Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation publishes a policy paper on tax avoidance in the common market by COFFERS researcher Lukas Hakelberg

In his paper, Lukas shows how the liberalization of the common market facilitated cross-border mergers and transactions between related firms. Policymakers knew this would intensify tax competition among member states. Yet, fundamental disagreement between capital importing and capital exporting countries paired with the unanimity requirement in tax matters kept them from harmonizing their corporate tax rules. As a result of the persisting mismatches between national tax systems and the free movement of capital, tax avoidance is today easier inside the common market than in the rest of the world.

The common consolidated corporate tax base (CCCTB), which the European Commission currently proposes, may provide a remedy to profit shifting inside the EU, if adopted. It foresees the EU-wide introduction of unitary taxation with formulary apportionment. That is, a multinational group’s total profit in the common market is calculated by aggregating the revenues and expenses of its European subsidiaries. As a result, a profit that is shifted from one subsidiary to the other will always be included in the group’s result, no matter in which member state it is recorded. Subsequently, the group’s profit is divided among member states based on sales, local workforce, and fixed assets. Intellectual property and other intangible assets are explicitly excluded. Continue reading “The Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation publishes a policy paper on tax avoidance in the common market by COFFERS researcher Lukas Hakelberg”

The Redistributive Impact of Hypocrisy in International Taxation

Together with his co-author Max Schaub, COFFERS researcher Lukas Hakelberg just published an article in Regulation & Governance on the redistributive impact of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) and the multilateral automatic exchange of information (AEI) regime it precipitated.

The authors perform a difference-in-differences analysis comparing banks’ deposit and debt security liabilities to foreign non-banks in tax havens and non-havens before and after the adoption of FATCA in 2010. They find that tax havens on average lost more portfolio investment to the introduction of the AEI than to the 2008 financial crisis. In contrast, portfolio investment in non-havens grew rapidly between 2010 and 2014. This divergence becomes even stronger when including the US in the non-haven group, which suggests that its decision not to reciprocate the AEI has recently afforded the country a competitive advantage in the attraction of hidden capital.

You can access the article here.

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).

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”

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

Capital unchained: finance, intangible assets and the double life of capital in the offshore world

A new article in a Review of International Political Economy special section on Global Wealth Chains edited by COFFERS researchers Leonard Seabrooke and Duncan Wigan. Here, with Dick Bryan and Mike Rafferty, Duncan explores conceptual and regulatory challenges posed by the rise of the knowledge economy and intangible assets, such a intellectual property, in terms of fiscal systems and the capacity to tax international firms. Using a framework focused on measuring (by accountants), managing (by corporations) and monitoring (by  scholars and regulators), the article explores the longer term implications of internationalised capital in intangible and abstract forms.

Link to article can be found here