According to the Boston Consulting Group, an estimated $7.3 trillion is stashed in offshore financial centers around the world, places such as the Cayman Islands, Switzerland, and Monaco, by corporations and wealthy individuals seeking to lower their tax burdens.
"Tax havens have a bigger impact on developing countries than on developed countries," Jeffrey Owens, director of the Centre for Tax Policy Administration at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), recently told Reuters, claiming that tax drainage to havens was equal to 7 or 8 percent of the gross domestic product of the African continent. A 2008 Christian Aid report put it in even starker terms, claiming that because revenues that could be used for healthcare and education are lost to havens, nearly 1,000 children in the developing world die each day as a result of trade-related tax evasion.
"We consider [the capital lost to tax havens] the most damaging economic condition hurting the poor," says Raymond Baker, director of the Global Financial Integrity Program at the Center for International Policy. "Nothing hurts developing countries more. It is a permanent outflow ... and leaves poverty in its wake."
That tax evasion can happen in several different ways. In some cases, proceeds from outright illegal activities - human trafficking, drug running, and fraud - are hidden offshore. In other cases, corrupt officials use tax havens as a way to conceal their earnings from bribes and illegal activities. And finally, multinational companies are able to dodge the taxman through "transfer pricing," moving profits around the world to tax-friendlier jurisdictions.
According to the World Bank, illicit flows of cash from developing economies amount to between $500-$800 billion a year, of which around 60 percent is commercial tax evasion.
via News Hour