Artful Dodgers: The 6 countries where everyone runs the other way when the tax man comes knocking.
On April 17, U.S. taxpayers will grudgingly send off their checks to the dreaded Internal Revenue Service. Whatever your political persuasion, it’s hard to think of a ritual more despised than the annual filling of the government’s coffers. And it’s not just in the United States where people complain. While the level of taxation is a topic of major political debate in nearly every country, the level of taxes that go unpaid gets far less attention.
The World Bank estimates the size of the global “shadow economy” — money intentionally hidden from view for the purposes of avoiding tax, including out and out tax fraud — amounts to more than 18 percent of global gross domestic product (GDP). A report by the British NGO Tax Justice Network (TJN) calculated that this amounts to more than $3 trillion in lost tax revenue per year. “It’s a crime against the people,” argues Richard Murphy, the accountant and economist who prepared the report, noting that tax evasion by wealthy individuals and corporations often shifts the burden of paying for public services or debt repayments to the poorest members of society.
Here’s a look at some of the most striking examples of tax evasion around the world. Unless otherwise indicated, all statistics are from TJN’s 2011 report, “The Cost of Tax Abuse”: