Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law

First Page



Opinions about tax havens cover a wide spectrum. Some suggest tax havens present an unacceptable face of capitalism and inflict considerable damage on the economies of nonhaven countries. Others argue that havens offer relief from oppressive taxes and other regulations which inhibit the free and efficient flow of capital; and still others hold the view that tax haven status may act as a catalyst for economic development. Obviously, the opinions vary according to whether a person is a tax collector in a non-haven country, a taxpayer engaged in international business activities, or a government policymaker in a haven country.

The objective of this Article is to examine the facts from which these opinions developed in order to gain a better understanding of tax havens and the pressures leading to their creation and perpetuation. Special attention will be paid to identifying the interests of the major parties affected by tax haven activities: industrialized countries, non-haven developing countries, foreign investors, and the tax havens themselves.

The remainder of this Article is divided into five parts. Part II identifies the principal attributes of tax havens. Part I deals with transactions using tax havens, and Part IV discusses the various legitimate interests affected by the existence of tax havens. Part V then provides a summary of the responses of non-haven countries to the abuse of tax havens and Part VI offers some concluding comments and observations.