The Hidden Wealth of Nations

The scourge of tax havens. (2015.9)


关于本书 About the book

In The Hidden Wealth of Nations, Zucman offers an inventive and sophisticated approach to quantifying how big the problem is, how tax havens work and are organized, and how we can begin to approach a solution. His research reveals that tax havens are a quickly growing danger to the world economy.

In the past five years, the amount of wealth in tax havens has increased over 25%—there has never been as much money held offshore as there is today. This hidden wealth accounts for at least $7.6 trillion, equivalent to 8% of the global financial assets of households. Fighting the notion that any attempts to vanquish tax havens are futile, since some countries will always offer more advantageous tax rates than others, as well the counter-argument that since the financial crisis tax havens have disappeared, Zucman shows how both sides are actually very wrong. In The Hidden Wealth of Nations he offers an ambitious agenda for reform, focused on ways in which countries can change the incentives of tax havens. Only by first understanding the enormity of the secret wealth can we begin to estimate the kind of actions that would force tax havens to give up their practices.

本书金句 Key insights

● A neutral state during World War I, Switzerland was untouched by combat and had no reason to raise taxes, and it also had a well-established banking network with high interest rates.

● In 2014, European personal wealth in Switzerland reached $1.3 trillion, a 20 percent increase since the financial crisis began – a huge amount of lost revenue that could have been used to prevent the budget cuts that hurt working and middle-class Europeans.

● The very politicians who are ostensibly against tax havens are actually taking part in the evasion.

● The United States has recently passed the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FACTA), which provides an automatic exchange of financial information between international banks and US tax authorities. It also enforces economic sanctions on any foreign banks that withhold information from US authorities.

● There should be a global FACTA – that is, all countries continuing to act as tax havens should face economic sanctions and trade levies.