Despite advances in tax information sharing and financial transparency, the amount of money that wealthy people manage to hide around the world is still enormous: some 9.5 billion euros are hidden in third countries or jurisdictions through opaque legislation. An amount equivalent to nearly eight times the GDP of Spain. These are estimates by the British Tax Justice Network (TJN), whose latest edition this Tuesday published Financial Secrecy IndexThe United States ranks first in terms of financial uncertainty, followed by Switzerland and Singapore.
The North American country has very attractive tax systems, like Delaware or Nevada, And it was in a particularly weak position in the Tax Justice Network rankings for not being a party to major information sharing agreements, such as the OECD Common Reporting Standard. This mechanism, in which more than 100 countries participate, in 2020 provided information on 11 trillion dollars in wealth and assets that were hidden.
The problem is not alien to the Joe Biden administration. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen suggested in December last year that the United States might be “the best place to launder money and hide illicit gains.”
The Financial Secrecy Index, or SFI, reveals the extent to which countries allow money to be hidden and laundered Navy. The end result attributed to each territory – 141 jurisdictions analyzed in this report – depends both on the ambiguity of their legislation, that is, on the absence or dearth of transparency and information exchange with other countries, as well as on the volume of financial services services provided to non-residents over the global total.
The US showed a deterioration in both variables compared to the previous version, in relation to 2020: the opacity increased due to a return “to the violation of international standards and information-sharing practices”, the analysis confirms, while the volume of financial services Navy by 21%, amounting to 25.8% of financial services provided to non-residents worldwide by all jurisdictions.
“It is hypocritical for the United States, under FATCA and related intergovernmental agreements (IGAs), to require all countries to share information about U.S. taxpayers’ offshore financial accounts, while the United States, for its part, shares little information or do not share any information with states about their population,” the report said.
Singapore enters the stage
Having topped the previous ranking, Cayman Islands – One of the many British Overseas Territories that offer beneficial tax systems – ranked 14th in this edition of the report. The improvement is due to the fact that they published data for the first time indicating the true extent of the financial services they provide to non-residents.
The one still at the top of the list is Switzerland, although its scores have improved somewhat. Switzerland, famous for many years for its unbreakable banking secrecy, ranked second in the 2022 edition of TJN. Its opacity rating is worse than that of the US, but its weight on total services to non-residents is much lower, less than 4%.
In third place is Singapore, Rise two locations and enter for the first time on the platform of the most mysterious area. Like the United States, the city-state has seen a decline in both the opacity of its system and an increase in the volume of financial services for non-residents.
Hong Kong is in fourth place, followed by Luxembourg, one of the founding members of the European Union, however, Brussels is not included in its list of tax havens. Germany is the other country of the community mass to appear in the top ten, at number seven. Japan ranked sixth and the UAE ranked eighth. British Virgin Islands and Guernsey – also dependent on the United Kingdom – Complete top ten
Globally, the financial secrecy index is declining, thanks to more and more countries introducing or improving beneficial property registration laws and advances in international anti-money laundering cooperation and information sharing. Despite this, the report warns that the opposite trend of five G7 countries – the US, UK, Japan, Germany and Italy – which have increased their financial uncertainty, is hampering global improvement.
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