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Tax evasion and Swiss bank deposits

  • Johannesen, Niels

Bank deposits in offshore financial centers may be used to evade taxes on interest income. A recent EU reform limits the scope for this type of tax evasion by introducing a withholding tax on interest income earned by EU households in Switzerland and several other offshore centers. This paper estimates the impact of the withholding tax on Swiss bank deposits held by EU residents while using non-EU residents who were not subject to the tax as a comparison group. We present evidence that Swiss bank deposits owned by EU residents declined by 30–40% relative to other Swiss bank deposits in two quarters immediately before and after the tax was introduced. We also present evidence suggesting that the drop in Swiss bank deposits was driven by behavioral responses aiming to escape the tax - such as the transfer of funds to bank accounts in other offshore centers and the transfer of formal ownership of Swiss bank accounts to offshore holding companies - rather than repatriation of funds.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Public Economics.

Volume (Year): 111 (2014)
Issue (Month): C ()
Pages: 46-62

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Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:111:y:2014:i:c:p:46-62
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505578

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  1. Chetty, Nadarajan, 2009. "Is the Taxable Income Elasticity Sufficient to Calculate Deadweight Loss? The Implications of Evasion and Avoidance," Scholarly Articles 9748527, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  2. H. Huizinga & Ga�tan Nicod�me, 2001. "Are international deposits tax-driven?," European Economy - Economic Papers 152, Directorate General Economic and Monetary Affairs (DG ECFIN), European Commission.
  3. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-in-Differences Estimates?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(1), pages 249-275, February.
  4. James R. Hines, 2010. "Treasure Islands," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 24(4), pages 103-26, Fall.
  5. Joao Santos Silva & Silvana Tenreyro, 2005. "The log of gravity," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 3744, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  6. Thomas Hemmelgarn & Gaetan Nicodeme, 2009. "Tax Co-ordination in Europe: Assessing the First Years of the EU-Savings Taxation Directive," Taxation Papers 18, Directorate General Taxation and Customs Union, European Commission.
  7. Johannesen, Niels, 2014. "Tax evasion and Swiss bank deposits," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 111(C), pages 46-62.
  8. Tina Klautke & Alfons Weichenrieder, 2008. "Interest Income Tax Evasion, the EU Savings Directive, and Capital Market Effects," CESifo Working Paper Series 2300, CESifo Group Munich.
  9. Niels Johannesen & Gabriel Zucman, 2012. "The End of Bank Secrecy? An Evaluation of the G20 Tax Haven Crackdown," PSE Working Papers halshs-00665054, HAL.
  10. Niels Johannesen & Gabriel Zucman, 2014. "The End of Bank Secrecy? An Evaluation of the G20 Tax Haven Crackdown," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 6(1), pages 65-91, February.
  11. Allingham, Michael G. & Sandmo, Agnar, 1972. "Income tax evasion: a theoretical analysis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 1(3-4), pages 323-338, November.
  12. Zsolt Darvas, 2012. "Real effective exchange rates for 178 countries: a new database," Working Papers 716, Bruegel.
  13. repec:ner:tilbur:urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-142606 is not listed on IDEAS
  14. Gabriel Zucman, 2013. "The Missing Wealth of Nations: Are Europe and the U.S. net Debtors or net Creditors?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 128(3), pages 1321-1364.
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