Thursday, June 22, 2017

 Agents of Inequality: How Wealth Managers to the Super-Rich Undermine Society and What We Can Do About It

Recent years have seen a tremendous amount of scholarship and commentary on the growth of inequality in the United States and what can be done about it. Lots of energy has been focused on public policies that “raise the floor,” or directly help out those at the bottom, by doing things like boosting the minimum wage or taxing high-earners and investing the proceeds in ways that help the public good.

Part of the inequality problem, however, is that trillions of dollars are being shifted off the ledger, hidden from measurement and taxation. Some of this “hidden wealth of nations,” as Gabriel Zucman calls it, is kept in offshore tax havens like the Cayman Islands and Panama that function as secrecy jurisdictions with minimal transparency or reporting requirements. Trillions more has been hidden in trusts and other complex financial arrangements available only to the very wealthy. New research suggests that households in the top 0.01 percent, those with wealth over $40 million, evade 25 to 30 percent of person income and wealth taxes—about 10 times more than the general population.

This process is aided and abetted by professional wealth managers who facilitate and lubricate the process of hiding wealth. Many of them work in private family offices that serve wealthy families. These are not mom-and-pop financial planners who help protect families from running out of money. We’re talking about the well-compensated professionals that serve the richest one-tenth of one percent of Americans.  (more...)

 Capital Without Borders

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