The Panama Papers — Three Years On
More than $1.2 billion has been collected by governments around the world after the 2016 investigation.
Here is a brief excerpt from this article –
"Although many of the methods of evading tax detailed in the Panama Papers were legal, their use has since been widely condemned in the court of public opinion.
“University of Leeds Professor of Tax Law Rita de la Feria says the Panama Papers has changed public sentiment towards taxation itself – and a failure to pay a fair share of tax is no longer considered a victimless crime.”
My comments –
Legal ways of avoiding tax are not “methods of evading tax”. Shame on the ICIJ for conflating avoidance with evasion.
Furthermore, “a fair share of tax” is not an amount defined by Professor de la Feria, or by “public sentiment”. It is an amount defined by the tax laws of one’s country. Which brings us back to the distinction between avoidance and evasion.
Tax avoidance is the proper use of the tax laws to prevent paying more than the law requires.
Tax evasion is the illegal failure to pay what the law requires.
These are two very different things.
Finally, let me round out this rant by commenting on “money laudering”, as most governments would have you understand that term. In practice, most governments operate as if money laundering is any movement of money which the government does not detect and cannot track. By that definition, I engage in money laundering whenever I can – not because my activities are illegal, but because they are none of the government’s damn business.
The ICIJ’s Panama Papers investigation has exposed some scoundrels engaged in illegal activities, for sure. But, the assumption which they apparently share with many governments – that any financial transaction not open to public scrutiny is somehow illicit – is a dangerous assumption, which threatens individual freedom and privacy.
End of rant. We now return to our regularly scheduled programming.