Niels Johannesen

University of Copenhagen
Department of Economics
and CEBI


NBER Working Papers and Publications

March 2018Taxing Hidden Wealth: The Consequences of U.S. Enforcement Initiatives on Evasive Foreign Accounts
with Patrick Langetieg, Daniel Reck, Max Risch, Joel Slemrod: w24366
In 2008, the IRS initiated efforts to curb the use of offshore accounts to evade taxes. This paper uses administrative microdata to examine the impact of the enforcement efforts on taxpayers’ reporting of offshore accounts and income. Enforcement caused approximately 60,000 individuals to disclose offshore accounts with a combined value of around $120 billion. Most disclosures happened outside offshore voluntary disclosure programs by individuals who never admitted prior noncompliance. The disclosed accounts were concentrated in countries whose institutions facilitate tax evasion. The enforcement-driven disclosures increased annual reported capital income by $2.5-$4 billion corresponding to $0.7-$1.0 billion in additional tax revenue.
September 2017Tax Evasion and Inequality
with Annette Alstadsæter, Gabriel Zucman: w23772
This paper attempts to estimate the size and distribution of tax evasion in rich countries. We combine random audits—the key source used to study tax evasion so far—with new micro-data leaked from large offshore financial institutions—HSBC Switzerland (“Swiss leaks”) and Mossack Fonseca (“Panama Papers”)—matched to population-wide wealth records in Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. We find that tax evasion rises sharply with wealth, a phenomenon random audits fail to capture. On average about 3% of personal taxes are evaded in Scandinavia, but this figure rises to close to 30% in the top 0.01% of the wealth distribution, a group that includes households with more than $45 million in net wealth. A simple model of the supply of tax evasion services can explain why evasion rises steeply with wealt...
Who Owns the Wealth in Tax Havens? Macro Evidence and Implications for Global Inequality
with Annette Alstadsæter, Gabriel Zucman: w23805
Drawing on newly published macroeconomic statistics, this paper estimates the amount of household wealth owned by each country in offshore tax havens. The equivalent of 10% of world GDP is held in tax havens globally, but this average masks a great deal of heterogeneity—from a few percent of GDP in Scandinavia, to about 15% in Continental Europe, and 60% in Gulf countries and some Latin American economies. We use these estimates to construct revised series of top wealth shares in ten countries, which account for close to half of world GDP. Because offshore wealth is very concentrated at the top, accounting for it increases the top 0.01% wealth share substantially in Europe, even in countries that do not use tax havens extensively. It has considerable effects in Russia, where the vast major...

Published: Annette Alstadsæter & Niels Johannesen & Gabriel Zucman, 2018. "Who owns the wealth in tax havens? Macro evidence and implications for global inequality," Journal of Public Economics, .

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