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Taxing Hidden Wealth: The Consequences of U.S. Enforcement Initiatives on Evasive Foreign Accounts

Author

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  • Niels Johannesen
  • Patrick Langetieg
  • Daniel Reck
  • Max Risch
  • Joel Slemrod

Abstract

In 2008, the IRS initiated efforts to curb the use of offshore accounts to evade taxes. This paper uses administrative microdata to examine the impact of the enforcement efforts on taxpayers’ reporting of offshore accounts and income. Enforcement caused approximately 60,000 individuals to disclose offshore accounts with a combined value of around $120 billion. Most disclosures happened outside offshore voluntary disclosure programs by individuals who never admitted prior noncompliance. The disclosed accounts were concentrated in countries whose institutions facilitate tax evasion. The enforcement-driven disclosures increased annual reported capital income by $2.5-$4 billion corresponding to $0.7-$1.0 billion in additional tax revenue.

Suggested Citation

  • Niels Johannesen & Patrick Langetieg & Daniel Reck & Max Risch & Joel Slemrod, 2018. "Taxing Hidden Wealth: The Consequences of U.S. Enforcement Initiatives on Evasive Foreign Accounts," NBER Working Papers 24366, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:24366
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Michelle Hanlon & Edward L. Maydew & Jacob R. Thornock, 2015. "Taking the Long Way Home: U.S. Tax Evasion and Offshore Investments in U.S. Equity and Debt Markets," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 70(1), pages 257-287, February.
    2. Menkhoff, Lukas & Miethe, Jakob, 2019. "Tax evasion in new disguise? Examining tax havens' international bank deposits," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 176(C), pages 53-78.
    3. Niels Johannesen & Tim B.M. Stolper, 2017. "The Deterrence Effect of Whistleblowing – An Event Study of Leaked Customer Information from Banks in Tax Havens," Working Papers tax-mpg-rps-2017-04_2, Max Planck Institute for Tax Law and Public Finance.
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    8. Alstadsæter, Annette & Johannesen, Niels & Zucman, Gabriel, 2018. "Who owns the wealth in tax havens? Macro evidence and implications for global inequality," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 162(C), pages 89-100.
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    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. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Menkhoff, Lukas & Miethe, Jakob, 2019. "Tax evasion in new disguise? Examining tax havens' international bank deposits," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 176(C), pages 53-78.
    2. Bayer, Ralph-C. & Hodler, Roland & Raschky, Paul A. & Strittmatter, Anthony, 2020. "Expropriations, property confiscations and new offshore entities: Evidence from the Panama Papers," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 171(C), pages 132-152.
    3. Florian Scheuer & Joel Slemrod, 2020. "Taxing Our Wealth," CESifo Working Paper Series 8719, CESifo.
    4. Leenders, Wouter & Lejour, Arjan & Rabate, Simon & Riet, Maarten van ‘t, 2020. "Offshore Tax Evasion and Wealth Inequality : Evidence from a Tax Amnesty in the Netherlands," Discussion Paper 2020-031, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    5. Spencer Bastani & Daniel Waldenström, 2020. "How Should Capital Be Taxed?," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 34(4), pages 812-846, September.
    6. Alejandro Esteller-Moré & Shafik Hebous & Niels Johannesen & Katarzyna Anna Bilicka, 2018. "The Present and Future of Tax Havens / El presente y futuro de los paraísos fiscales / El present i futur dels paradisos fiscals," IEB Reports ieb_report_4_2018, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).
    7. Bayer, Ralph-C. & Hodler, Roland & Raschky, Paul A. & Strittmatter, Anthony, 2020. "Expropriations, property confiscations and new offshore entities: Evidence from the Panama Papers," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 171(C), pages 132-152.
    8. Matthew Gould & Matthew D. Rablen, 2020. "Voluntary disclosure schemes for offshore tax evasion," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 27(4), pages 805-831, August.
    9. Casi, Elisa & Spengel, Christoph & Stage, Barbara M.B., 2020. "Cross-border tax evasion after the common reporting standard: Game over?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 190(C).
    10. James Alm, 2021. "Tax Evasion, Technology, and Inequality," Working Papers 2101, Tulane University, Department of Economics.
    11. Gabriel Zucman, 2019. "Global Wealth Inequality," NBER Working Papers 25462, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Ines Heck & Jakob Kapeller & Rafael Wildauer, 2020. "Vermögenskonzentration in Österreich," Working Paper Reihe der AK Wien - Materialien zu Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft 206, Kammer für Arbeiter und Angestellte für Wien, Abteilung Wirtschaftswissenschaft und Statistik.
    13. Heck, Ines & Kapeller, Jakob & Wildauer, Rafael, 2020. "Vermögenskonzentration in Österreich: Ein Update auf Basis des HFCS 2017," Greenwich Papers in Political Economy 30683, University of Greenwich, Greenwich Political Economy Research Centre.
    14. Florian Scheuer & Joel Slemrod, 2021. "Taxing Our Wealth," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 35(1), pages 207-230, Winter.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H24 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies
    • H26 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Tax Evasion and Avoidance

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