Many people think of British Virgin Islands, Jersey, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands when they hear references to offshore tax havens. And they’d be right — those are four of the five top tax havens for corporations worldwide, according to a study published today on Nature.com.
But the fifth may surprise you: Taiwan. It ranks as the second-most prominent offshore corporate tax haven.
“[Previous] in-depth studies by tax specialists have suggested that Taiwan is an ‘unnoticed tax haven,’” write the study’s authors, a group of European computer scientists who used algorithms to conduct the research. “The prominence of Taiwan is driven by Taiwanese technological companies, which often own Chinese firms through Hong Kong (33%) and Caribbean Islands (20%), or own Hong Kong firms through Caribbean Islands (12%).”
The study also looked at prominent offshore corporate tax conduits, defined as “attractive intermediate destinations in the routing of international investments [that] enable the transfer of capital without taxation.”
The top five conduit countries are the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Singapore and Switzerland.
And where’s Panama, origin of the notorious Panama Papers? The algorithms determined that Panama is neither sink nor conduit for corporations.
“Panama is mainly a tax haven for individuals and with relatively high corporate taxes (25%) is less attractive for corporate groups,” the authors write, pointing out that most of the shell companies in the Panama Papers “were actually domiciled in the British Virgin Islands.”
Canada did not appear in the study’s lists of top corporate tax havens or conduits.