Tax haven ban kills private equity Tax haven ban kills private equity Tax haven ban kills private equity

Tax haven ban kills private equity

PG
Peter Garnry

Head of Equity Strategy

Summary:  "The OECD agrees in 2023 to move to a more aggressive stance on tax havens, launching a full ban on the largest tax havens in the world." - Peter Garnry.


In 2016, the EU introduced an EU tax haven blacklist identifying countries or jurisdictions that were deemed ‘non-cooperative’ because they incentivize aggressive tax avoidance and planning. This was in response to the leaked Panama Papers, a trove of millions of documents that revealed tax cheating by wealthy individuals including politicians and sports stars. However, that blacklist excluded the biggest tax havens, in part due to effective lobbying. Thus, the global tax haven ecosystem continues to thrive. And it’s not just wealthy individuals that are heavy users of tax havens—entire industries such as private equity and venture capital also leverage tax haven vehicles like offshore feeder funds to attract capital from foreign investors in different tax jurisdictions.  

As the war economy mentality deepens further in 2023, national security perspectives turn increasingly inward to industrial policies and the protection of domestic industries. As defence spending, reshoring and investments in the energy transition are expensive, governments look for all available potential tax revenue sources and find some low-hanging fruits in haven-enabled tax dodgers. It is estimated that tax havens cost governments between USD 500 and USD 600 billion annually in lost corporate tax revenue. 

Based on advice from economic advisors that tax havens offer little economic purpose, the OECD agrees in 2023 to move to a more aggressive stance on tax havens, launching a full ban on the largest tax havens in the world such as the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, The Bahamas, Mauritius and the Isle of Man. The ban means that corporate acquisitions in OECD countries cannot be made with capital arriving from tax haven entities and only from OECD countries or countries that adopt OECD transparency standards on capital, which would include automatic exchange of information, beneficial ownership registration and country-by-country reporting.  

In the US, the carried interest taxed as capital gains is also shifted to ordinary income. The EU tax haven ban and US change to the carried interest taxation rule jolts the entire private equity and venture capital industries, shutting down much of the ecosystem and seeing publicly listed private equity firms dealt a 50 percent valuation haircut. 

Market impact: iShares Listed Private Equity UCITS ETF falls 50 percent 
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