Paradis fiscaux

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Tax haven
A tax haven is a country or territory where certain taxes are levied at a low rate or not at all.
Individuals and/or corporate entities can find it attractive to move themselves to areas with reduced or nil taxation levels. This creates a situation of tax competition among governments. Different jurisdictions tend to be havens for different types of taxes, and for differentcategories of people and/or companies.
There are several definitions of tax havens. The Economist has tentatively adopted the description by Geoffrey Colin Powell (former economic adviser to Jersey): "What ... identifies an area as a tax haven is the existence of a composite tax structure established deliberately to take advantage of, and exploit, a worldwide demand for opportunities to engage in taxavoidance." The Economist points out that this definition would still exclude a number of jurisdictions traditionally thought of as tax havens. Similarly, others have suggested that any country which modifies its tax laws to attract foreign capital could be considered a tax haven. According to other definitions, the central feature of a haven is that its laws and other measures can be used to evade oravoid the tax laws or regulations of other jurisdictions.
In its December 2008 report on the use of tax havens by American corporations, the U.S. Government Accountability Office was unable to find a satisfactory definition of a tax haven but regarded the following characteristics as indicative of a tax haven:
1. nil or nominal taxes;
2. lack of effective exchange of tax information withforeign tax authorities;
3. lack of transparency[citation needed] in the operation of legislative, legal or administrative provisions;
4. no requirement for a substantive local presence; and
5. self-promotion as an offshore financial center.
The use of differing tax laws between two or more countries to try to mitigate tax liability is probably as old as taxation itself. In AncientGreece, some of the Greek Islands were used as depositories by the sea traders of the era to place their foreign goods to thus avoid the two-percent tax imposed by the city-state of Athens on imported goods. It is sometimes suggested that the practice first reached prominence through the avoidance of the Cinque ports and later the staple ports in the twelfth and fourteenth centuries respectively.In 1721, American colonies traded from Latin America to avoid British taxes.
Various countries claim to be the oldest tax haven in the world. For example, the Channel Islands claim their tax independence dating as far back as Norman Conquest, while the Isle of Man claims to trace its fiscal independence to even earlier times. Nonetheless, the modern concept of a tax haven is generally accepted tohave emerged at an uncertain point in the immediate aftermath of World War I. [5] Bermuda sometimes optimistically claims to have been the first tax haven based upon the creation of the first offshore companies legislation in 1935 by the newly created law firm of Conyers Dill & Pearman. [6] However, the Bermudian claim is debatable when compared against the enactment of a Trust Law byLiechtenstein in 1926 to attract offshore capital. [7]
Most economic commentators suggest that the first "true" tax haven was Switzerland, followed closely by Liechtenstein. [8] Swiss banks had long been a capital haven for people fleeing social upheaval in Russia, Germany, South America and elsewhere. However, in the early part of the twentieth century, in the years immediately following World War I,many European governments raised taxes sharply to help pay for reconstruction efforts following the devastation of World War I. By and large, Switzerland, having remained neutral during the Great War, avoided these additional infrastructure costs and was consequently able to maintain a low level of taxes. As a result, there was a considerable influx of capital into the country for tax related...