Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Last week I was at a conference held by Tax Justice Norway, Chr Michelson Institute (CMI) and the Norwegian School of Economics (NHH) in Bergen. The conference was called “Lifting the Veil of Secrecy: Tax Havens, Capital Flows and Developing Countries”. It included academics, legal practitioners and campaigners, and covered a wide ground ranging from […]


Congratulations to James Farrar and Yaseen Aslam (and 17 others) who won their employment tribunal case against Uber last week. The case concerned whether Uber drivers in the UK are self-employed independent contractors or ‘workers’ for Uber. The tribunal ruled that drivers work for Uber, not the other way round and therefore they are entitled to […]


This article appeared in Tax Journal on 13 October 2016 and is reproduced with permission. (Available as a pdf) The art of estimating the scale of tax avoidance involves tentative extrapolations, careful assumptions and caveats. The data available is patchy, calculations are educated guestimates, and studies must first deal with the problem that the term ‘avoidance’ itself means different things to different people.


I was excited to hear last year that ICAI (the UK’s Independent Commission for Aid Impact) was embarking on a Learning Review of DFID’s programme of work on international tax avoidance and evasion. It is a small programme (according to the report around £3 million a year, and three advisors who participate in international committees) […]


A couple of weeks ago UNCTAD published a study on illicit financial flows through trade misinvoicing which they said “revealed staggering revenue losses to developing countries”. It made the extraordinary claim that “virtually all gold exported by South Africa leaves the country unreported” and suggested this was explained by  massive smuggling. The South African authorities took […]


[Updated on August 2nd and 3rd, and 16th  and December 27th and August 21 2017 – updates at the bottom] This is a running update post following my post of July 20th 2016: Misinvoicing or Misunderstanding? . I will keep updating it. The story so far On July 16 2016 UNCTAD published a study on Trade Misinvoicing […]


This week a new study came out on Trade Misinvoicing in Primary Commodities in Developing Countries by Professor Léonce Ndikumana of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, published by UNCTAD. It looks at the value of commodities such as copper, oil, gold, cocoa etc…exported from Chile, Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria, South Africa and Zambia and compares […]


Interviewees for jobs at Google are famously are asked fiendish questions like “how much does the Empire State Building weigh?” or “how many piano tuners are there in Chicago?”.[1]  The point of these ‘Fermi questions’ is not that there is a right answer, but that quick thinking applicants can combine the knowable (the population of Chicago), […]


Controversies about corporate ‘tax dodging’ tend to follow a common pattern. Critics expose the web of complex structures and opaque transactions used by a company and point to the advantageous tax result. It might be legal, they say, but it smells fishy.But one person’s egregious exploitation of loopholes, can be another’s innocuous interpretation of the […]


I am delighted to welcome a guest post by Iain Campbell who is a member of the National Committee of the UK Association of Revenue and Customs (ARC). While I have  previously looked at the ‘big numbers’ that shape the debate on corporate tax avoidance, here Iain takes a close look at an estimate relating to offshore […]