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Tax evasion and Swiss bank deposits

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  • Johannesen, Niels

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Johannesen, Niels, 2014. "Tax evasion and Swiss bank deposits," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 111(C), pages 46-62.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:111:y:2014:i:c:p:46-62
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2013.12.003
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. James R. Hines, 2010. "Treasure Islands," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 24(4), pages 103-126, Fall.
    2. Raj Chetty, 2009. "Is the Taxable Income Elasticity Sufficient to Calculate Deadweight Loss? The Implications of Evasion and Avoidance," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 1(2), pages 31-52, August.
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    5. Johannesen, Niels, 2014. "Tax evasion and Swiss bank deposits," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 111(C), pages 46-62.
    6. 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.
    7. 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.
    8. J. M. C. Santos Silva & Silvana Tenreyro, 2006. "The Log of Gravity," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 88(4), pages 641-658, November.
    9. Tina Klautke & Alfons J. Weichenrieder, 2010. "Interest Income Tax Evasion, the EU Savings Directive and Capital Market Effects," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 31(1), pages 151-170, March.
    10. 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.
    11. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-In-Differences Estimates?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(1), pages 249-275.
    12. 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.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Niels Johannesen & Tim Stolper, 2017. "The Deterrence Effect of Whistleblowing: An Event Study of Leaked Customer Information from Banks in Tax Havens," CESifo Working Paper Series 6784, CESifo Group Munich.
    2. Vincent Bouvatier & Gunther Capelle-Blancard & Anne-Laure Delatte, 2017. "Banks in Tax Havens: First Evidence based on Country-by-Country Reporting," Working Papers 2017-16, CEPII research center.
    3. James Alm, 2012. "Measuring, explaining, and controlling tax evasion: lessons from theory, experiments, and field studies," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 19(1), pages 54-77, February.
    4. Konrad, Kai A. & Stolper, Tim B.M., 2016. "Coordination and the fight against tax havens," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 103(C), pages 96-107.
    5. Katarzyna Bilicka & Clemens Fuest, 2014. "With which countries do tax havens share information?," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 21(2), pages 175-197, April.
    6. 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.
    7. Niels Johannesen & Tim B.M. Stolper, 2017. "The deterrence effect of whistleblowing," EPRU Working Paper Series 17-01, Economic Policy Research Unit (EPRU), University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
    8. 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.
    9. Jakob Miethe & Helge Niesytka, 2016. "Tax Evasion and the Impact of International Regulation: A Summary of Empirical Results," DIW Roundup: Politik im Fokus 104, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    10. Johannesen, Niels, 2014. "Tax evasion and Swiss bank deposits," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 111(C), pages 46-62.
    11. Shafik Hebous, 2014. "Money at the Docks of Tax Havens: A Guide," FinanzArchiv: Public Finance Analysis, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 70(3), pages 458-485, September.
    12. Braun, Julia & Weichenrieder, Alfons, 2015. "Does Exchange of Information Between Tax Authorities Influence Multinationals' Use of Tax Havens?," Annual Conference 2015 (Muenster): Economic Development - Theory and Policy 113121, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    13. Gabriel Zucman, 2012. "The missing wealth of nations: Are Europe and the U.S. net debtors or net creditors?," Working Papers halshs-00565224, HAL.
    14. repec:eee:dyncon:v:87:y:2018:i:c:p:152-172 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Sara Torregrosa, 2015. "Bypassing progressive taxation: fraud and base erosion in the Spanish income tax (1970-2001)," Working Papers 2015/31, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).
    16. Niels Johannesen & Gabriel Zucman, 2012. "The End of Bank Secrecy? An Evaluation of the G20 Tax Haven Crackdown," Working Papers halshs-00665054, HAL.
    17. Annette Alstadsæter & Niels Johannesen & Gabriel Zucman, 2017. "Who Owns the Wealth in Tax Havens? Macro Evidence and Implications for Global Inequality," NBER Working Papers 23805, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. Koch, Christian & Müller, Cornelius, 2015. "Anticipated Tax Amnesties and Tax Compliance: An Experimental Study," Annual Conference 2015 (Muenster): Economic Development - Theory and Policy 112991, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    19. Shafik Hebous & Niels Johannesen, 2015. "At Your Service! The Role of Tax Havens in International Trade with Services," CESifo Working Paper Series 5414, CESifo Group Munich.
    20. Marcel GERARD & Lucia GRANELLI, 2013. "From the EU Savings Directive to the US FATCA, Taxing Cross Border Savings Income," Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) 2013007, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
    21. Marcelo Arbex & Sidney Caetano, 2016. "Welfare Implications of AEoI," Working Papers 1608, University of Windsor, Department of Economics.

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