We have been dependent on skilful NGOs and a few scholars for the best available estimates. The most recent study, published in July is by James Henry, former McKinsey chief economist who was commissioned by the Tax Justice Network to measure long-term unrecorded cross-border private financial capital flows and stocks, which erode national tax bases, especially in developing countries.
This latter figure had grown at an annual rate of 16 per cent during the previous five years.
Henry also estimates that at least per cent of these funds have come from developing countries at levels averaging several hundred billion a year since the s. Not all of these flows are to the well-publicised tax havens in tropical islands or European statelets.
This is one reason why London is a tax haven. It is clear that the inaction is due to the large amounts of financial support which the financial corporations in the City of London and Wall Street contribute to the major political parties and the influence that goes with that, including the expectation of being the source of senior political appointees. If governments were as serious about equitable means of increasing revenue and reducing public deficits and debt as they claim to be there is much they could do.
It is clear that to achieve these declared goals countries would have to co-operate to win control of these uncontrolled hoards. One simple measure championed by civil society involves the introduction of country-by-country reporting required for both individual and company taxation.
This reporting standard would require transnational corporations to include in their annual reports and tax returns, their sales, profits and taxes in each jurisdiction in which they operate. A step towards this was taken in the US Dodd-Frank Act which includes the Cardin-Lugar amendment which requires oil, gas, and mining companies listed on the NYSE to publish the payments they make to foreign governments broken down to project level.
The issue is far wider than the extractive industries though. This difference points to the need for a capable global tax co-operation agency. Its purpose would not be to collect tax, but could include developing international norms for tax policy, maintaining surveillance of tax developments, taking a lead in restraining tax competition, and sponsoring a mechanism for multilateral sharing of tax information so as to curb the scope for evasion of taxes. NNN 5.
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