Tax, as a Social Policy Instrument

Tax Base Erosion Symptoms?
Overview on Offshore Capital Outflow

Bálint Vargha
Lawyer, State Audit Office of Hungary

Published in: Public Finance Quarterly 2017/2 (p. 188-211.)

SUMMARY: This article aims to give a broad overview on the knowledge available about the criteria of offshore jurisdictions, their historical development, the characteristics and degree of capital outflow, the involvement of Hungarian assets, its implications on sovereignty, the major features of national and EU legislation, and the potential directions of a supreme audit institution. It also endeavours to place the phenomenon of offshore economy in a global political economic context. This article relies largely on reviewing academic articles written in English that offer an international comparison. Giving an exhaustive definition of offshore jurisdiction and quantifying the capital affected is one of the major challenges of the topic. However, the calculations available are rather eloquent: semi-developed economies accumulating large foreign debts could have been subject to capital flight to offshore destinations in amounts exceeding their indebtedness. There are indications that offshore capital flight is merely a specific case of wealth leaving developing economies, notwithstanding that adverse effects emanate at economies of core countries, too. Hungary is subject to the negative impacts of the offshore phenomenon also on account of its relative position embedded in the world economy. Although regulation never managed to mitigate offshore, and only led to a restructuring among destination countries, auditing the efforts made by competent state authorities to explore taxable offshore assets is an option.

KEYWORDS: offshore, taxation, political economy, capital flight, capital outflow

F21, F32, F39, F42

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