Quotes


We want to put a stop to tax havens. We want results on this, with a list of tax havens and a series of consequences.

Nicolas Sarkozy
French President, after the 2009 G20 summit

Aggressive tax avoidance is a serious cancer eating into the fiscal base of many countries.

Pravin Gordham
South African Finance Minister, 2009

We will also target tax evasion and off-shore tax havens… Everyone must pay their share.

George Osborne
UK Chancellor

Tax havens aren’t just about tax. They are about escape – escape from criminal laws, escape from creditors, escape from tax, escape from prudent financial regulation – above all, escape from democratic scrutiny and accountability.

Nick Shaxson
‘Treasure Islands: Tax havens and the men who stole the world’

Much of the shadow banking sector, a major contributor to the economic crisis, was also only possible because of taxhaven secrecy.

Vince Cable
British MP, 2009

We don’t pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes.

Leona Helmsley
Property Heiress

Taxes are the price we pay for civilization.

Oliver Wendell Holmes
Jr., U.S. Supreme Court justice

It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion.

Adam Smith
On Progressive Taxation

From this trade proceeds benefits far outweighing all mischiefs and inconveniences.

Quote from a slave trader

Pay your taxes, and set your country free
.

Michael Waweru
Commissioner-general of the Kenya Revenue Authority, November 2007

We are not a tax haven
.

Officials or interests representing most, if not all, the world’s tax havens, speaking on various occasions

There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.

Warren Buffett
November 2006

This reality is the ugliest chapter in global economic affairs since slavery.

Raymond Baker
Author of Capitalism’s Achilles Heel, June 2007

For every $1 that we have been generously handing out across the top of the table, we in the West have been taking back some $10 of illicit money under the table. There is no way to make this formula work for anyone, poor or rich.

Raymond Baker
Author of Capitalism’s Achilles Heel, June 2007

Let’s face it. Nobody pays more tax than they have to. We’re all tax dodgers aren’t we?

Edmund Vestey
One of Britain’s richest citizens, 1980

The wealth, power, and illegality enabled by this hidden system are now so vast as to threaten the global economy’s legitimacy
.

Jeffrey Sachs
On tax havens, April 30, 2011

It does not surprise anyone when I tell them that the most important tax haven in the world is an island. They are surprised, however, when I tell them that the name of the island is Manhattan. Moreover, the second most-important tax haven in the world is located on an island. It is a city called London in the United Kingdom.

Marshall Langer
A leading pro-tax haven analyst, Tax Notes International, 2001

It is a contradiction to support increased development assistance, yet turn a blind eye to actions by multinationals anothers that undermine the tax base of a developing country.

Trevor Manuel
South African Finance Minister, January 2008

The real spelling of aid is t.a.x.

Jeffrey Owens
Head of tax at the OECD, Nov 30, 2008

Their extraordinary freedoms are not natural, or economically efficient, as is now obvious post the credit crunch. They are the consequence of a 20-year-long lobbying campaign to win finance freedoms from national regulation and which are now used against governments to keep them in their place.

Will Hutton
2008

Offshore represents a new and significant division of labour in regulation: ‘private’ regulation for the corporate citizen and ‘public’ regulation (the law, prisons and social welfare) for individuals.

Ronen Palan
In Offshore Finance Centres and Tax Havens: the Rise of Global Capital

The activities engaged in routinely and as a matter of course by these tax havens are hostile acts towards all countries.

Willem Buiter
FT columnist and former chief economist of the EBRD, former external member of the UK’s Monetary Policy Committee, in his article Blockade the Tax Havens

This is why you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Pay to all their dues, taxes to whom taxes are due, toll to whom toll is due, respect to whom respect is due, honour to whom honour is due.

Romans 13: 6 & 7

The expansion in the use of these jurisdictions has a link to decolonisation. It is a modern form of colonialism.

Eva Joly
The Norwegian-born magistrate who cracked open the Elf Affair

Tax shelters are to democracy what pollution is to the environment
.

David Cay Johnston
In Perfectly Legal: The Covert Campaign to Rig Our Tax System

The difference between tax avoidance and tax evasion is the thickness of a prison wall.

Denis Healey
A former British chancellor

The magistrates are like sheriffs in the spaghetti westerns who watch the bandits celebrate on the other side of the Rio Grande… They taunt us—and there is nothing we can do.

Eva Joly
Furious about how tax havens stonewalled her judicial probes

It is the ‘horse and sparrow’ theory of income distribution and its taxation. If you feed a horse enough oats, some will pass through to the road for the sparrows.

J. Kenneth Galbraith
On trickle-down economics

The rich are different when it comes to paying taxes: They hide more of their income.

Forbes magazine
Reporting on a U.S. Internal Revenue Service study estimating that those with true incomes of $200,000 or more accounted for 40% of net underreported income in 2001

This $1 trillion or more per year of illicit money that moves across borders and the structure that facilitates its movement is the biggest loophole in the global economic system.

Raymond Baker
June 2007


How do I possess that power, that sovereignty? Through privacy. Through the fact that nobody knows. Through the fact that I have to account to no-one.

Ian Fleming
Dr No

What this boils down to – and this is one of the most Postmodern things about Murdoch – is that he is in a sense not located anywhere.

John Lanchester
London Review of Books, February 2004, on Rupert Murdoch, whose tax bill stayed below ten cents in the dollar for the entire decade from 1989

At one Subcommittee hearing, a former owner of an offshore bank in the Cayman Islands testified that he believed 100 percent of his former bank clients were engaged in tax evasion.

Carl Levin
US Senator introducing the Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act, February 2007

I find it amusing
.

Paul O’Neill
US Treasury Secretary under President George W. Bush, asked about whether the disparity between reported offshore accounts and their actual numbers was significant

Tax havens have a bigger impact on developing countries than on developed countries . . . there is an enormous drainage of revenues to tax havens. This is equivalent to around 7 to 8 percent of gross domestic product for the African continent and a multiple of the aid it gets from developed countries.

Jeffrey Owens
Tax director at the OECD, November 2008

Congress can swear on two stacks of Bibles that it’ll never do it again, but they’ve lost their virginity
.

David Rosenbloom
New York University, on the U.S. Congress’ enthusiasm for tax amnesties

I cannot comprehend how we have got to the point where nation states have so profoundly trivialised tax evasion.


Bertrand Bertossa
Crime-fighting Swiss magistrate, 2002

The notion of the competitiveness of countries, on the model of the competitiveness of companies, is nonsense.

Martin Wolf
In his book “Why Globalisation Works”

The industry is going to crap.

David Kelley
U.S. attorney in New York in charge of a case against KPMG on selling fraudulent tax shelters

At some point . . . such conduct passes from clever accounting and lawyering, to theft from the people.

US Internal Revenue Service
In a case dealing with KPMG’s “phoney tax losses”

There can be few fields of human endeavor in which history counts for so little as in the world of finance.

John Kenneth Galbraith
A short history of financial euphoria


The tax avoidance was so big it became the engine of growth for the whole of the investment banking arm.

Barclays whistleblower
March 2009

(I wonder) how long it will be found necessary to pay City men so entirely out of proportion to what other servants of society commonly receive for performing social services not less useful or difficult.

John Maynard Keynes
Indian Currency & Finance

When you’re a banker, you have to know how to have blinkers.

Jean-Didier Maille
Banker on trial in Paris in the “Angolagate Affair,” explaining his involvement in a murky arms-for-oil deal. October 2008

The City of London,that state within a state which has never transmitted even the smallest piece of usable evidence to a foreign magistrate.

Eva Joly
Investigating magistrate who broke open the “Elf Affair,” Europe’s biggest corruption investigation. In her book Notre affaire à tous, page 243

We feel that this (lack of provision of an effective regulatory system) might be a grave omission, since it is notorious that this particular territory, in common with Bermuda, attracts all sorts of financial wizards, some of whose activities we can well believe should be controlled in the public interest.

Memorandum concerning the Bahamas dated 3rd November 1961
submitted by Mr W.G.Hulland of the Colonial Office to Mr B.E.Bennett at the Bank of England

Britain’s legal system allows people depositing money to hide their identities behind a trust system. The consequence of this is that the authorities’ investigations reach no conclusions, because the banks really don’t know who their customers are.

Pierre Mirabaud
President of the Swiss Banking Association, 2004

Too many boards right across Britain tick the green and diversity boxes, then reward their finance or tax director for cheating their customers, the taxpayer.

Lord Oakeshott
UK Liberal Democrat spokesman, Feb 2009

Offshore (is) a kitchen, where corporate books are cooked.

Jack Blum
April 2009

Our law enforcement officials have too often had to stand silent when asked by their counterparts in other countries for information about who owns a U.S. corporation committing crimes in their jurisdictions. The reality is that the United States is as bad as any offshore jurisdiction when it comes to responding to those requests.

Senator Carl Levin

The advanced tax planning undertaken today by most global companies is as intelligible to the average person as particle physics.

Alan Rusbridger
Editor of the Guardian, writing about the huge legal risks his newspaper has faced in addressing offshore tax abuses

Secrecy is as vital as the air we breathe.

The Swiss Banking Association
In half-page advertisements in a number of broadsheet newspapers, in a rearguard action following the Nazi gold scandal

The term “billions of dollars” is now thrown around with such frequency that many people simply have no feel for what it means. In their book, The Trouble With Billionaires, Linda McQuaig and Neil Brooks put it in perspective: “Imagine this: you are given one dollar every second. At that rate, after one minute, you would have sixty dollars. And after twelve days, you would be a millionaire – something beyond most people’s wildest dreams. But how long would it take to become a billionaire? Well, at that rate, it would take almost thirty-two years.

Canadians for Tax Fairness

Phew. And they add that while the average income for the top 10 US athletes was $44.6 million, and for pop stars it was $87.2 million – the average income for the top 10 hedge fund managers was $1.7 billion.

Canadians for Tax Fairness

A billion dollars is an astronomical amount of money. And those with billions, hundreds of millions, tens of millions or even a few million can certainly afford to contribute more taxes to build and maintain a healthy 21st century society.

Canadians for Tax Fairness

I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. . . . corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed.

Pres. Abraham Lincoln
Nov. 21, 1864 (letter to Col. William F. Elkins)

The national budget must be balanced. The public debt must be reduced; the arrogance of the authorities must be moderated and controlled. Payments to foreign governments must be reduced, if the nation doesn’t want to go bankrupt. People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance.

Cicero, 55 BC
Roman author, orator, & politician (106 BC – 43 BC)

I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around [the banks] will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered. The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs.

Thomas Jefferson, (Attributed)
3rd president of US (1743 – 1826)