LE PLUS.Selon Globes: « For decades, many Israelis have been opening bank accounts in Switzerland and transferring quite a few assets to them. Under the cloak of Switzerland’s tight banking secrecy laws, money unreported to the tax authorities could also be deposited. This phenomenon is of course not confined to Israelis; foreign residents from many countries have taken advantage of tax shelters to transfer unreported money. This loophole, however, has now been closed. In recent years, many banks, including Israeli banks, have been investigated on suspicion of helping their customers evade taxes, and the conventions between countries for exchanging information about accounts held by foreign residents have been picking up momentum, making keeping unreported funds an impossible task.
A study recently published by the US National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) tried to map the extent of the use of tax shelters by residents of various countries. Among other things, the study used data from central banks, and cross-referenced them with data for assets of the citizens of those countries. The study estimates that 10% of GDP is found in the various tax shelters. At the same time, the study highlights the major differences between countries. « Scandinavian countries own the equivalent of only a few percent of GDP in offshore wealth, but this figure rises to about 15% in Continental Europe, and to as much as 60% in Russia, Gulf countries, and a number of Latin American countries, » the study authors write.