TJN: Offshore History Page Update

June 16th, 2011

The Tax Justice Network has now collected a significant number of documents together in its “Offshore History” page. The latest addition is a history of the emergence of the Cayman Islands as a tax haven / secrecy jurisdiction, which is here.

The full Offshore History page currently reads as below. Comments and suggestions for additional material would be gratefully received.

Offshore History: Articles and online documents

Dec 2010 – Tax Analysts 40th anniversary commemorative book, where 50 tax folk are invited to answer the question: What is one of the most significant changes to tax administration, practice, or policy that you have seen in your professional career? Available free, here.

Dec 2010 – Liberia’s shipping industry, MIT Press Journals. Article here.

Dec 2010 – U.S. tax trends since 1950

Oct 2010 – The rise and rise of Britain’s tax haven empire. A look at some aspects of Britain’s rush to set up and protect Caribbean tax havens from the 1970s.

Oct 2010 – Caroline Doggart, Tax Haven Woman. The story of a woman who became one of the world’s first tax haven analysts, working for the Economist Intelligence Unit.

2010A history of tax havens, by Ronen Palan. A broad historical overview of the offshore system and its emergence.

2009-10 (various) – A history of the Cayman Islands as a tax haven. By Alan Markoff. Original here.

Dec 2008 – History of Singapore’s emergence as a tax haven. Original articles here, here and here.

Oct 2008 – Short history primer on international tax, New Internationalist magazine

Feb 2008 – This paper by Michael Lennard, The Purpose and Current Status of the United Nations Tax Work, explores the history and role of the United Nations in international taxation, and the current role of the U.N. Tax Committee. It was updated in February 2010, also in the Asia-Pacific Tax Bulletin, here.

June 2007Lessons from the last war on tax havens. Marty Sullivan of Tax Analysts looks at the history of the OECD’s Harmful Tax Competition project, and how it was killed by lobbyists in Washington and others.

2006 Taxation and American slavery. Robin Einhorn of the University of California Berkeley traces the roots of anti-tax ideology in  American history to disputes about the taxation of slaves as persons and property.

Jan 2005 – Tax avoidance, tax havens and the genesis of the Tax Justice Network – TJN. (NB the contact details provided are now out of date.)

Aug 2003a history of information exchange. A United Nations report in the wake of the Monterrey Consensus looking at how, among other things, the OECD stymied efforts by developing countries to get a fairer international tax system. Original document here.

Oct 2002 – No Accounting for Tax Havens.This paper by the Association for Accountancy & Business Affairs (AABA) examines selected issues and episodes in the history of the British Crown Dependency of Jersey. Chapter 6: A Legislature for Hire provides an especially instructive (and important) example of the ways in which private interests shape can shape offshore and onshore legislation.

2000 – The Origins of Swiss Bank Secrecy. The must-read article for those interested in the issue, by Professor Sébastien Guex of the University of Lausanne. Among other things, it demolishes the widely circulated myth that it was set up to help protect German Jews.

Oct 1998 – The Edwards Report – before and after. A look at how a UK government report critical of UK-focused tax havens got whitewashed. Main articles here.

April 1998 – OECD report Harmful Tax Competition: an Emerging Global Issue. This report, critical of tax havens and tax competition, was killed by Washington lobbyists and U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill during the administration of George W. Bush. The story of how it was killed is available from a TaxAnalysts book review, here.

From 1995 – Taxanalysts Tax History project. With a heavily U.S.-focused view of tax history, it contains much detail about taxation – though relatively little about tax havens. For example: Four Things You Should Know About the Boston Tea Party.

January 1981 – The Gordon Report. Entitled Tax havens and their use by United States taxpayers: an overview, this was the first ever in-depth report on tax havens, by the U.S. Treasury. Highly critical of tax havens, it was published just as Ronald Reagan came to power, and was immediately forgotten about. Available in pdf, text and other versions.

September 1980 – An article looking at transfer pricing and unitary taxation, in the context of U.S. railroads.

Written by Nicholas Shaxson

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