Transparency and Tax Evasion: Evidence from the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA)
62 Pages Posted: 19 Sep 2017 Last revised: 1 Nov 2019
Date Written: July 31, 2019
We examine how U.S. individuals respond to regulation intended to reduce offshore tax evasion. The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) requires foreign financial institutions to report information to the U.S. government regarding U.S. account holders. We first document a $7.8 billion to $15.3 billion decrease in equity foreign portfolio investment to the United States from tax haven countries after FATCA implementation, consistent with a decrease in “roundtripping” investments attributable to U.S. investors’ offshore tax evasion. When testing total worldwide investment out of financial accounts in tax havens post FATCA, we find a decline of $56.6 billion to $78.0 billion. We next provide evidence of other important consequences of this regulation, including increased expatriations of U.S. citizens and greater investment in alternative assets not subject to FATCA reporting, such as residential real estate and artwork. Our study contributes to both the academic literature and policy analysis on regulation, tax evasion, and crime.
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