Here Comes Another Tax Jurisdiction "Blacklist"

Editorial Staff January 3, 2019

Here Comes Another Tax Jurisdiction

The Dutch government has brought out its own list of countries it says aren’t doing enough to stem what is deemed unacceptable tax avoidance.

Jurisdictions linked to the US are among those that the Dutch government has recently added to an expanded list of places deemed slow off the mark in chasing down tax avoiders.

In a move likely to prompt anger or bemusement from some quarters, the Netherlands government has created its own “blacklist”. 

The Dutch list contains five jurisdictions that are already blacklisted by the European Union (American Samoa, the US Virgin Islands, Guam, Samoa, and Trinidad and Tobago, and includes another 16 low-tax jurisdictions (Anguilla, the Bahamas, Bahrain, Belize, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, Guernsey, the Isle of Man, Jersey, the Cayman Islands, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the Turks and Caicos Islands, Vanuatu and the United Arab Emirates), media reports said.

"By drawing up its own stringent blacklist, the Netherlands is once again showing that it is serious in its fight against tax avoidance," State Secretary for Finance Menno Snel said in a press release. "And that's just one of the steps we're taking", he was quoted by various media outlets as saying. (This publication was unable to locate this statement on the Dutch government's official website.)

Such "blacklists" can lead to charges of hypocrisy, as many "offshore" jurisdictions argue that they are more, at least no less, compliant with tax rules than supposedly "onshore" jurisdictions. Within the EU, of which the Netherlands is a member, jurisdictions such as Luxembourg, Malta and Cyprus have been criticized for their practices. 

More widely, while the Common Reporting Standard accord encourages dozens of countries to swap data to go after alleged miscreants, the US - the world's largest economy - is not a signatory to the CRS, and yet a number of its states (such as Delaware, New Hampshire, etc) are arguably opaque.

The coverage of this issue also highlights how the dividing line between evasion, which is typically illegal, and avoidance, which is not, is being blurred.

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