While European Union, EU, officials busied themselves with listing 17 countries or overseas colonies as being dicey tax havens – notably excluding Switzerland and the United States from that list - a new report released by the Tax Justice Network has not. In fact, the international independent tax advocacy group, having analyzed 110 countries, found that Switzerland and the United States rank number one and two, respectively, when it comes to tax evasion.
"Financial secrecy provided by the U.S. has caused untold harm to the ordinary citizens of foreign countries, whose elites have used the United States as a bolt-hole for looted wealth," wrote the group in its Financial Secrecy Index.
The report noted that the U.S. government operates on two fronts in relation to tax evasion, preserving itself “as a secrecy jurisdiction for foreigners” and maintaining vigilance in protecting itself from U.S. citizens who might skirt paying taxes by disguising as foreigners, according to Common Dreams.
It also revealed that 22 percent of the global market in offshore financial services are currently held by the United States alone.
The director of the Tax Justice Network weighed in on the matter, saying that countries such as Switzerland and the United States claim to be heading towards greater transparency, however, they withhold information depending on who makes the request. “Rich, Western countries get information, but poorer countries in Africa do not.”
He commented that “we are seeing the systematic looting of countries” due to tax evasion and “the sums involved are enormous.”
Meanwhile, Gary Kalman, executive director of the FACT Coalition, which advocates for policies aimed at tackling criminal activity in the financial system, said the United States boasts “one of the strongest economies and one of the most secret. It's a perfect recipe for attracting the proceeds of crime, corruption, and tax evasion. Internationally, this secrecy facilitates corruption that drains wealth from developing countries."
He went even further, saying that "the opioid crisis and human trafficking are both on the rise with the help of anonymous shell companies to launder the proceeds," according to Common Dreams.
Other countries or overseas territories ranked among the top 10 tax evaders by the Tax Justice Network included Germany, Luxembourg, Singapore, Hong Kong and the Cayman Islands.
The EU list of tax havens included American Samoa, Guam, the Marshall Islands, Samoa, South Korea, Mongolia, Panama, Palau, Namibia, Bahrain, Barbados, Grenada, Saint Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates and Macau.
Sven Giegold, a member of the European Parliament and economics spokesperson for the Green group, described it as being a “whitewashed blacklist of tax havens.”