A view of the British Virgin Islands, known to be a tax haven, on April 3, 2009.

PANDORA PAPERS – $ 11,300,000,000,000. Since the publication of the investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) called Pandora Papers ”on Sunday, October 3, you may have come across this disproportionate number where the zeros line up.

But the interpretation of this amount has often been wrong, especially on social networks. So what is it? It is in any case not the total of fraud or tax evasion.

This amount, pronounced 11.3 trillion dollars (approximately 10,000 billion euros) appears in an OECD report published in 2020 for the year 2019. “Nearly a hundred countries exchanged information automatically , allowing their tax administrations to obtain data on 84 million financial accounts held abroad by their residents, which represents assets with a total value of 10,000 billion euros (11.300 billion dollars, editor’s note) ”, Can we read in the study.

It is not therefore sums held by the thirty or so heads of state, the hundreds of personalities and the 130 billionaires pinned by the Pandora Papers. And even less of the loss of earnings for the States in which these sums could (and sometimes should have) been declared.

Fraud, tax optimization and not only

Because as also specified Release on Twitter, if these billions “obviously escape the tax of the countries of origin, the tax loss (for the States) is not equivalent to the hidden sum”.

In addition, tax evasion (holding accounts in territories where taxation is advantageous or non-existent) can be legal – in this case we speak of tax optimization – or illegal – it is tax evasion. The latter, condemnable by the courts, remains in reality difficult to estimate since it is by definition complex and above all secret.

In any case, this amount could well grow even further. In 2018, the first year in which the exchange of tax information was made automatic, allowing hundreds of countries to obtain data on the financial accounts held abroad by their respective residents, the amount of assets held abroad. abroad was 4.9 trillion euros against 1.1 trillion the previous year. And in 2019, 10,000 billion euros (11.300 billion dollars).

This increase is explained, details the OECD, by the growing number of countries that have joined this initiative to move towards tax transparency. And which allow to know a little more year after year about these well-kept secrets.

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