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There is untold wealth hidden in secrecy jurisdictions around the globe. The wealth-stripping from corrupt practices and regimes, illegal activity, and legal-but-ethically-bankrupt tax avoidance schemes is larger than most can possibly imagine. Because of the secret nature of the financial flows, it is impossible to know precisely the amount of money, but economist Gabriel Zucman estimates at least $7.6 trillion is in tax havens and secrecy jurisdictions. The Boston Consulting Group estimates $11 trillion. And the Tax Justice Network estimates between $21 and $32 trillion dollars.
More than $2.4 trillion is currently stashed offshore by the 500 largest U.S. companies, costing American taxpayers nearly $700 billion in unpaid taxes. Indeed, the annual cost of offshore tax avoidance by multinational companies is $94 billion to $135 billion, while overseas tax evasion by individuals drains an additional $40 billion to $70 billion each year from the American public.
We seek a larger conversation about how specifically certain interests are manipulating the tax system and undermining our ability to act collectively to solve problems. The secrecy, in particular, allows certain entities to play by a different set of rules than the rest of us. Internationally, the secrecy facilitates corruption and impoverishes developing countries. In the U.S., we are complicit in the draining of wealth of other nations and fueling the austerity movement in our own.