Data leaks like the Panama Papers show how tax havens provide a secret offshore financial system that privileges three main actors: malefactors, millionaires, and multinational corporations. Such leaks have provided millions of documents detailing how certain taxpayers benefit from tax haven services. Wealthy criminals use the offshore world to anonymize their financial misdeeds and, in low-income countries, drain governments of valuable resources while citizens remain in dire circumstances. High-income taxpayers exploit the offshore world to legally reduce their tax bills, deploying techniques that are not available to ordinary-income taxpayers. The leaks also show how the wealthiest members of society—the top 0.01%—are more likely to engage in the criminal offense of offshore tax evasion by hiding their fortunes in tax havens. Finally, multinational corporations set up related corporations in tax havens to reduce global tax liabilities legally, providing higher returns for wealthier shareholders. By privileging the interests of criminals, millionaires, and corporations, the offshore world is exacerbating the growing income inequality found in much of the world. This Article considers legal and policy reforms to address this challenge.
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Copyright (c) 2021 Arthur Cockfield