Clamping down on secret tax evaders?

It’s hardly likely. The recent highly publicised meeting of finance ministers of Britain, Germany, France, Italy and Spain is no more likely to put an end to tax evasion than from at least a dozen other initiatives in recent years. Prompted by the recent release of the Panamanian Papers which caused a louder outcry than usual, Treasury Departments will no doubt placate the tax-payers in their respective countries with a few cosmetic changes and press releases.

Within each of the five countries, senior tax inspectors belong to the same upper middle class as the tax-evaders they are supposed to nail down.  Many of them, when they become knowledgeable enough about the almost impossibly complex tax codes and are networked enough within their own departments and outside, will retire early and will set up tax avoidance on their own account or become highly paid advisors to businesses.

As for international cooperation, taxation departments of different countries are as imbued with ‘my country right or wrong’ as any other social body. In any culture from hunter-gatherer groups and upwards a strong internal righteousness prevails. There are several single-issue problems when international cooperation can be achieved. There are many more issues where the cultural subtleties and financial interests of one’s own class or country are paramount and always in compeition.

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