Nicholas Shaxson, Foreign Affairs

Nicholas Shaxson

Foreign Affairs

Berlin, BE, Germany

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  • Foreign Affairs
  • Social Europe
  • Tax Justice Network
  • Washington Post

Past articles by Nicholas:

The Taxman Cometh

The long-term prospects for higher taxes on multinationals have never been better. That could help reduce inequality and add more value to the world. → Read More

Corporate taxation—momentum is building – Nicholas Shaxson

The international system for business taxation is starting to crumble. Now is the time for civil society to apply pressure. → Read More

Take action to stop corporate tax cheating in Europe

Every year, corporate tax avoidance costs countries around the world an estimated US$ 500 billion or more. One reason for these losses is that companies are able to hide their financial affairs: from tax authorities, and from the public. More transparency will improve tax collection, and help pay for many public goods such as hospitals. Since the 1970s, civil society groups have been pushing for… → Read More

How GDP masks the finance curse

Every country needs a financial centre, but as it grows beyond a certain optimal size (where it is carrying out the functions it is supposed to do) it starts to harm the country that hosts it. That is the finance curse, and many countries including the United States and United Kingdom passed that point decades ago. Smaller financial centres in these countries would make their citizens better… → Read More

MTN uses Netherlands tax haven to escape African tax bills

> South African telecoms giant MTN appears to have avoided paying any capital gains tax in Uganda on the lucrative sale of its investment in mobile phone masts in the country. MTN’s latest financial statements show a profit of 1.3 billion South African Rand – almost $80 million — from the sale of its interests in Uganda. Taxed at the standard 30 percent rate, this could have yielded $25… → Read More

Murky Ghana gold deal raises questions about Jersey

Update: the previous blog had the incorrect link for the Angola-Russia deal. The correct link has been inserted. Update: there’s now a petition you can sign and share, available here. > On the last days before Ghana’s Parliament went on recess the government laid before it for approval some agreements . . . Parliament hastily went through those bills, ‘debated’ and approved them on Friday… → Read More

Could the wealth in tax havens help us pay for the Coronavirus response?

As economies crumble under coronavirus pandemic, powerful interests are hoping to get rich from huge government bailouts. A well-informed Washington D.C. insider described the latest U.S. bailout package, for instance, as a “corporate coup” to reshape the U.S. economy: > “it’s really really bad, and much of the bad stuff is not being included in the sleazy marketing materials . . [it is] a… → Read More

Tax justice and the coronavirus

The Covid-19 Coronavirus pandemic is, at least on available evidence, striking rich western countries the hardest so far. Lower-income countries will be hit hard too, however: massive capital flight is already underway. And in all societies, as ever, the impacts fall hardest on those who are already marginalised and vulnerable. But for now, rich countries have an abundance of resources to feed,… → Read More

How the Finance Curse hurts U.S. agriculture

An article in the U.S. magazine The Nation, written by today’s blogger (pictured above), highlights how the finance curse strikes U.S. agriculture. It starts by focusing on the political divides that seem to have opened up between the so-called “coastal elites” which tend to vote for Democrats, and more rural constituencies, which voted more heavily for Donald Trump in the last elections. Voting… → Read More

After Brexit, EU blacklists UK’s territory Cayman

> The Cayman Islands will join Oman, Fiji, and Vanuatu on an EU blacklist of foreign tax havens, making it the first UK overseas territory to be named and shamed by Brussels We have lambasted Europe’s blacklists for years, which are based above all on political considerations. In particular, the EU does not seem to want to blacklist EU member states, or powerful countries or . . . any tax… → Read More

Luanda Leaks: the effects on the ground in Africa

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) has today published a set of reports based on 715,000 leaked documents about Angola, and particularly Isabel dos Santos, the daughter of former President José Eduardo dos Santos. In summary, dos Santos enjoyed tremendous Angolan state largesse to amass a large fortune overseas, using more than 400 shell companies and other… → Read More

IMF: shrink the financial sector to reduce inequality

The IMF has just published a new Staff Discussion Note entitled “Finance and Inequality,” by Martin Čihák and Ratna Sahay. The shortest summary of its conclusions is: too much finance makes countries more unequal. And in the words of the IMF’s new Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva, introducing the study, rising inequality: > is reminiscent of the early part of the 20th century — when the… → Read More

On raising tax in Africa

The Economist is running an article on a subject dear to our hearts, entitled “African governments are trying to collect more tax. It contains some useful data and quotes, such as this: It also quotes Logan Wort, Executive Secretary of the African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF,) saying that administrative reforms like strengthening IT systems or adopting taxpayer identification numbers helped,… → Read More

The Competitiveness Files: Martin Wolf

In 2015 we set up a new website called Fools’ Gold, dedicated to investigating (and skewering) the woolly concept of “national competitiveness,” which is so widely (mis)used by many politicians, and so derided by many economists. We are closing the Fools’ Gold site now, for operational reasons, but we’ll use it as an opportunity to re-publish some of the core elements from the site, notably a… → Read More

If tax havens scare you, monopolies should too. And vice versa.

Europe Needs a “Tax Justice Network for monopolies.” Introduction The BBC recently carried a short article which began: > “Luxembourg’s data privacy watchdog says it is in discussions with Amazon about voice recordings made of customers who have used the firm’s Alexa smart assistant. The regulator is the “Lead Supervisory Authority” (LSA) for the company in the EU, meaning that it… → Read More

Tax Havens: Britain’s Second Empire

In August 2012, the UK-based New Left Project published an article entitled “Britain’s Second Empire,” which involved an interview with the London-based academic Ronen Palan (pictured). The idea is that after the collapse of its formal Empire, Britain created a new, more hidden financial “empire” of tax havens around the world, which handled increasing amounts of money from around the world.… → Read More

IMF tackles tax havens

At least, the IMF’s latest edition of Finance & Development is focused on the “hidden corners of the global economy” – which naturally involves tax havens. It carries a feature by TJN contributor Nicholas Shaxson (author of Treasure Islands and the more recent The Finance Curse,) entitled Tackling Tax Havens. Here’s (maybe) the most arresting sentence, in case you didn’t know this: > We… → Read More

France gets bullied on digital tax

France and the United States have been at loggerheads over French plans to impose a 3% digital tax on revenues earned on digital services in France, which would hit US multinationals like Google or Facebook. The US had threatened retaliation. Now, it seems US president Donald Trump and French President Macron have reached a deal: > “Macron told reporters that companies that pay the tax would… → Read More

Taxing foreign capital as an alternative to tariffs.

Michael Pettis, a well known China-watcher and expert on global finance and macroeconomics (who has also apparently been a leading light in Beijing’s punk rock scene), has published a new article on Bloomberg entitled 5 Smart Reasons to Tax Foreign Capital. It’s a welcome antidote to all those who feel that the route to national prosperity is through desperately throwing subsidies and tax… → Read More

How financialisation worsens Britain’s regional imbalances: our submission to parliament

Recently the UK Treasury launched an inquiry into regional imbalances in the UK economy. In short, it was asking about the nature of the economic imbalances in the UK, the problems these imbalances may pose, and what remedies might be available. TJN sent the Treasury a submission, which you can download HERE. The main purpose of the submission is: > to challenge a widespread view that London… → Read More