Tax haven billions could end poverty twice over

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Source: Oxfam NZ – Press Release/Statement:

Headline: Tax haven billions could end poverty twice over

At least NZ$22.9 trillion is hidden by wealthy individuals in tax havens worldwide, representing a loss of more than NZ$193 billion in tax revenue, according to new figures published today by international agency Oxfam.

The missing money is twice that required for every person in the world to be living above the NZ$1.55-a-day “extreme poverty” threshold.

Oxfam’s Kevin Roussel said: “It’s scandalous that so much money is allowed to sit untaxed, letting off the hook those individuals who can most afford to pay for public goods and services. Many governments claim to have no alternative but to cut public spending and development aid, but we’ve found there’s enough potential tax to be had on hidden “private” money to end extreme world poverty twice over.”

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Oxfam has found that two-thirds of this global offshore wealth – nearly NZ$15 trillion – is hidden in EU related tax havens, such as Luxembourg, Andorra or Malta. These havens are facilitating the loss of over NZ$123 billion in tax revenues worldwide. A third of offshore wealth is sitting in UK-linked tax havens where it is undeclared and untaxed. 

A tax havens crackdown is on the agenda for discussion at the European Union leaders’ summit today. Oxfam is calling for a blacklist of tax havens, and an agreement from EU member states to impose sanctions against tax havens and those using them. The EU looks set to fail on this simple task.

Roussel said: “The UK and Europe cannot stand by while billions is lost from the global public purse on their watch.”

The NZ$193 billion of lost tax revenue Oxfam estimates is just a fraction of the total tax loss, as it only reflects the amount of tax that individuals are neglecting to pay. It doesn’t include the tax dodged by companies and multinational corporations, whose swindling costs Africa alone an estimated NZ$198 billion a year.