Admittedly, we’re surprised to write that headline several weeks after “tax day” in the United States. However, a common theme emerged during a recent World Bank Group program on tax evasion: there’s currently an unprecedented level of enthusiasm, political will and momentum in support of combating global tax evasion and avoidance.
Why should readers of the FCPA Blog care about tax enforcement and administration? Because there’s a significant correlation between corruption and tax evasion. Moreover, tax evasion and corruption have a particularly devastating impact on developing countries — draining billions of dollars from developing economies.
A 2014 Global Financial Integrity report found that “$991.2 billion in illicit capital flowed out of developing and emerging economies in 2012.” The study also found that “illicit outflows are growing at an inflation-adjusted 9.4 percent per year — roughly double global GDP growth over the same period.”
While readers of the FCPA Blog are well aware of the many global anti-corruption initiatives underway, they may be less familiar with global initiatives designed to combat tax evasion and avoidance. Several weeks ago, during the World Bank Group’s Spring Meeting, FCPA Blog Senior Editor Jessica Tillipman moderated a panel titled: “Tax Evasion & Development Financing: Strengthening Global Action.” The impressive group of speakers included government and civil society representatives from Denmark, Peru, Norway and the United States.
The speakers highlighted recent initiatives designed to combat tax evasion, including automatic information exchange, beneficial ownership registries, and greater levels of cooperation among global enforcement agencies. The participants also encouraged partnerships between developed and developing countries to enhance developing country capacity to combat tax evasion and avoidance. The speakers emphasized that these collaborations have yielded positive results.
Several panelists emphasized the need to establish and enforce transparent systems that enable developing countries to mobilize domestic resources. They explained that the key to meeting a post-2015 sustainable development goals agenda is to build capacity in relevant institutions, mobilize international tax reform cooperation and close loopholes that enable tax evasion and avoidance.
If readers are interested in watching the program in its entirety, the World Bank has provided a recording of the program online.
Jessica Tillipman is a Senior Editor of the FCPA Blog and an Assistant Dean at The George Washington University Law School. She can be reached here.
Vanessa Ognuti is a third-year law student at The George Washington University Law School. She can be reached here.