Reuven Avi-Yonah

Reuven S. Avi-Yonah is the Irwin I. Cohn Professor of Law and director of the International Tax LL.M. Program at the University of Michigan.

Recent Articles

The Shame of Tax Havens

Taxes evaded in offshore havens could fund a lot of public services.  

Press Association via AP Images
Press Association via AP Images Action Aid protesters lampoon the role of Barclays Bank in helping clients set up offshore tax havens. This book review appears in the Fall 2015 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . The Hidden Wealth of Nations: The Scourge of Tax Havens By Gabriel Zucman 200 pp. University of Chicago Press $20.00 T ax havens cost the world’s governments hundreds of billions of dollars a year, promote corruption, and undermine the rule of law. They are part of a larger worrisome pattern in which the world’s corporations outrun the governing capacity of states. A tax haven is a nation that refuses to cooperate with major countries in order to lure multinational corporations and investors to nominally book transactions in its locale. These transactions can be outright illegal, or borderline, but beyond the reach of legitimate tax authorities. Gabriel Zucman, a young French economist now at the London School of Economics and the University of...

World-Class Tax Evasion

The current age of globalization can be distinguished from the previous one (1870-1914) by the much higher mobility of capital than labor. In the previous age, before immigration restrictions, labor was at least as mobile as capital. Today's increased capital mobility reflects both technological changes (the ability to move funds electronically) and policy changes (the relaxation of exchange controls and liberalization of trade rules). The mobility of capital in turn has led to tax competition, especially for foreign investment. Sovereign countries lower tax rates on income earned by foreigners within their borders in order to attract both portfolio and direct investment. Tax competition, in turn, threatens to undermine the individual and corporate income taxes that traditionally have been the main source of revenue for modern welfare states. The developed countries responded, first by shifting the tax burden from (mobile) capital to (less mobile) labor, and second, when further...