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Tracking Down Tax Havens
Tax Haven Roadmap
Reviewed by Mark Leger
You've just found out that the wealthiest businessman in town is
setting up a tax haven in the Cayman Islands. You've been assigned
to write a story about what he's up to, and you know next to nothing
about tax havens. Your subject, not surprisingly, isn't about to
This is when Richard Czerlau's Tax Haven Roadmap comes in
handy. It's a guide to setting up tax shelters around the world.
Czerlau, who has a background in financial services, spent four
years researching and writing this book. It's for disenchanted businesspeople,
but is just as useful for reporters.
According to Czerlau, a potential tax haven is one which exhibits
one or more of the following: no tax or a low tax is imposed; high
level of bank and commercial secrecy; banking and other financial
services are important to the country's economy; excellent transportation,
communication and transportation facilities; lack of currency controls
on foreign deposits of foreign currency; and promotes itself as
a tax haven or an offshore financial centre.
After general information about tax havens and how to set them
up, Czerlau discusses why the reader should set up a tax shelter.
A true libertarian, he rails against the evils of high taxes. He
also cautions unsuspecting entrepreneurs about unscrupulous individuals
who launch frivolous lawsuits to bilk a businessperson of his, or
her, hard-earned cash. To illustrate his point, Czerlau reminds
us of the woman who sued McDonald's after she spilled hot coffee
on her lap. Czerlau's musings might inspire businesspeople unsure
about the usefulness of a tax shelter, but they are not of much
interest to a journalist on deadline.
A reporter is most likely to find the second half of the book useful.
There, Czerlau provides detailed information about setting up tax
shelters in 24 countries. He begins with an overview of each country's
history, then proceeds to answer a series of questions any businessperson
would ask before deciding whether a given country is a suitable
The first question is an important one because every entrepreneur
wants to be protected from reporters, Canadian tax collectors and
greedy consumers looking to make a quick buck off a lawsuit: "Does
Anguilla have a secrecy law?" to take Anguilla for example.
There are two natural follow-up questions: "Is there any situation
where bank secrecy can be lifted?" and "Can foreign tax
authorities obtain information on Anguillan bank accounts?"
The next series of questions is based on the country's tax system:
"Is there an income tax in Anguilla?;" "Are there
any other taxes in Anguilla?;" and "Is there a tax treaty
between Canada and Anguilla?"
At the end of each country profile, Czerlau lists a number of financial
institutions and other useful contacts, including banks, government
departments, management services and law firms. Because there are
strict secrecy laws in most countries, these contacts wouldn't be
useful to a journalist looking for information about a specific
business. But they might be useful for more general information
about a country's tax structure.
There is nothing in this book that will help you to get the businessman to talk about the details of his own tax shelter. Unless you have concrete proof, he probably won't even admit he has one. But it's a useful starting point and reference tool for reporters who don't know much about the nuances of tax shelters around the world. Who knows, you might even decide you want to build one yourself.