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Will Pan-European "Transparency" Tackle Tax Evasion?

19 May 2008

Le Temps

The recent scandal involving tax evasion by German citizens using Liechtenstein foundations has predictably drawn attention to Switzerland's banking secrecy laws, and led to the suggestion by certain EU Governments that Switzerland should be pressured to reform its banking laws.

The existence of significant tax evasion through Liechtenstein has led to familiar calls for pan-European “transparency.” In practice, this means the right of Governments to have unfettered access to confidential financial information concerning their citizens without there being any evidence of wrongdoing, but just as a matter of routine.

While tax evasion is an unpleasant minority sport that ultimately ends up as a cost to the majority of honest taxpayers, this method of dealing with it is redolent of the Big Brother state imagined in George Orwell's apocalyptic novel 1984.
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