Fantastic documentary on tax evasion on ARTE

Following a tip on the Tax Justice Network blog, last night I caught the first showing of a documentary by Xavier Harel called “Tax Evasion: The hold-up of the Century” on the French ARTE channel.

The film is only available in French and German at the moment, hopefully versions in other languages are on the way because it is fantastic. In 90 fast-paced minutes, Harel combines interviews with archive images, cartoons and moments of comedy to paint a very clear picture of how tax evasion works and its cost to society. Along the way he:

– visits the Cayman Islands, Switzerland, Jersey, Delaware, and Greece

– talks to global experts including Raymond Baker, John Christensen, James Henry, Nick Shaxson, Pascal Saint-Lamy and many others

– meets Swiss whistleblower Rudolf Elmer

– sets up an offshore company in Delaware over lunch

– explains the origins of offshore, how multinationals are structured to minimize tax, what trusts are and how they work

– makes clear the cost to society of tax evasion and its role in the financial and debt crisis

And much, much else. The only things perhaps missing were the links between tax evasion and poverty in the developing world, transfer pricing, and the role of secrecy jurisdictions in laundering the proceeds of corruption, but it’s completely understandable these were left out as they would have required a much longer running time.

For more information including on reruns please visit the ARTE website here.

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