Nick Shaxson ■ Some (minor) useful developments in the United States


We have recently been extremely exercised about Tax Haven USA, which has been busy (and rightly so) protecting itself from offshore tax havens, while at the same time becoming more of a tax haven for foreigners.

But we mustn’t forget that the United States isn’t a monolith: it’s a battleground between offshore cheerleaders (led by Wall Street), and reformers who dislike how the U.S. is hoovering up the world’s dirty money.

The offshore cheerleaders have had the upper hand for as long as we can remember, but that hasn’t stopped the indefatigable reformers from curbing the worst excesses. So it’s encouraging to highlight some good news every now and then, such as this welcome move last week:

“President Barack Obama’s administration, citing concern about the origin of funds used for all-cash purchases of luxury real estate, said it is stepping up scrutiny of transactions in New York City and Miami.

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network said on Wednesday that it will temporarily require title insurance companies to identify individuals behind companies that pay cash for high-end residential real estate in Manhattan and Miami-Dade County.”

OK, this isn’t exactly ambitious, but its a move in the right direction, and was supported by this New York Times editorial urging for these efforts to be broadened.

Update, Jan 21: here’s another sign of progress in Oregon, one of the miscreant states that is deep into the shell company business:

“Secretary of State Jeanne Atkins plans to tackle shell company abuse, an effort that could reverse a decade of state inaction and address Oregon’s reputation as a place hospitable to corporate scoundrels.”

And now, from our allies at the FACT coalition:


We are meanwhile preparing a bold proposal of our own, to tackle Tax Haven USA. More on this in the coming days.



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