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The Hypocritical HegemonHow the United States Shapes Global Rules against Tax Evasion and Avoidance$

Lukas Hakelberg

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781501748011

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501748011.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM Cornell University Press SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.cornell.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Cornell University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in Cornell for personal use. date: 19 September 2021

(p.viii) Note on Terms

(p.viii) Note on Terms

The Hypocritical Hegemon

Lukas Hakelberg

Cornell University Press

This book makes heavy use of the terms tax haven, secrecy jurisdiction, tax evasion, and tax avoidance, for which the academic literature does not provide consensual definitions (Palan, Murphy, and Chavagneux 2010). In this book, the term tax haven refers to countries that act as secrecy jurisdictions, corporate tax havens, or—very often—both. Secrecy jurisdictions provide foreign investors with legal constructs for the concealment of their identities. These legal constructs include bank secrecy (laws prohibiting the dissemination of information on account holders), trusts (legal arrangements separating the economic from the beneficial ownership of an asset portfolio), and anonymous shell companies (corporations that can be registered without identifying their beneficial owners). Corporate tax havens either impose no or minimal taxes on foreign profits or exempt certain types of revenue such as royalty or interest payments from the corporate tax base. Accordingly, a secrecy jurisdiction mainly abets tax evasion, which occurs when a household conceals financial wealth and related capital income from the tax office at its place of residence, whereas a corporate tax haven abets tax avoidance, which refers to the shifting of taxable profits from high-tax to low-tax countries without corresponding shifts in the underlying economic activity. Of course, all of these terms represent ideal types meant to facilitate systematic analysis. Many countries have been secrecy jurisdictions and corporate tax havens at the same time. Although corporations can legally avoid taxes, some may still engage in criminal tax evasion. Likewise, households can legally avoid taxes, especially when they own companies.