Tax havens are fewer and fewer but increasingly full of our money

The “bad” tax havens went from 17 to 12. The European Council has in fact updated the blacklist, removing from the list the countries that deviate from the required standards and where those who move money avoid paying the taxes they should in their own state. No small thing given that offshore financial wealth reached 12 trillion dollars globally in 2022. Looking at Italy alone it is about almost 200 billion euros, almost 10% of the national GDP.

The list of non-cooperative jurisdictions has existed since 2017, after scandals such as the Panama Papers. It is the list drawn up by Brussels of countries with preferential taxation where those who want to escape move. Sanctions against tax havens may include the freezing of European funds. The list is made based on different fiscal parameters that determine the potential risk of the various States: transparency on tax information, absence of measures in antithesis to the BEPS treaties, facilitation or otherwise of the installation of offshore structures. The recent update removed the Bahamas, Belize, Seychelles and the Turks and Caicos Islands from the blacklist. Now there are 12 left: the islands of Samoa and American Samoa, the islands of Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Fiji, Guam, Palau, Trinidad and Tobago, the US Virgin Islands, Panama, Russia and the Vanuatu archipelago. Organizations committed to tax justice protest by speaking of a “disarming length of the list” with only 12 states. But what stands out is that there have always been illustrious absentees on the “naughty list”. From the Cayman Islands to the Bahamas, from Bermuda to Jersey. And above all, a piece of the world is completely missing, the one close to home: Luxembourg, Malta, Ireland, Cyprus, the Netherlands… European jurisdictions are not even taken into consideration when creating the blacklist. Yet, according to data from the Global Tax Evasion Report, of the over 180 billion offshore of Italians, 33.8% is in protected tax areas within Europe.

From 2016 to 2022 there was a boom in Italian offshore: 159 billion euros, an increase of 144% (EuTax Observatory data). Overall, this amounts to almost 200 billion euros that have escaped Italian taxation. 181 billion are in offshore banks (liquidity or financial activity), around 15.5 billion is used in real estate in the French Riviera, Paris and London, Dubai and Singapore. Where are these 181 billion euros? 45.5% are in Switzerland, 33.8% in the “protected” areas of the European Union, 14.6% in the Asian offshore areas and 6% in the American ones.

Capital flight offshore means less tax revenue and distorted competition. That's 200 billion euros. Almost four times the public funds for schools and almost twice the Italian health spending. And to think that the majority of assets flown to tax havens are held by natural persons: eight cases out of ten.