The rich and their families are hiding more than $21 trillion (€17.36 trillion) in offshore tax havens, equivalent to around $250 billion in lost tax revenues for governments, according to a report released on Sunday.
Conducted for the Tax Justice Network, a pressure group that campaigns against tax havens, the study drew on data from the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the Bank for International Settlements and national treasuries.
“Both wealth and inequality are being dramatically underestimated to a very significant degree, in every study and in every country,” said the report, authored by former McKinsey & Company economist James Henry.
In fact, the $21 trillion figure may not be entirely accurate, said the research – it could be as high as $32 trillion if more accurate data were available.
Switzerland, the Cayman Islands, Luxembourg and Hong Kong were the most popular destinations to hide wealth, according to the report. With $250 billion in revenues being lost to tax evasion, the study reckons the amount of tax evaded by the rich in some countries is often larger than the nation’s total debt.
The study also said that in the 30 years to 2010, the income of the top 1% in the US doubled, while the top 0.01% increased four times.
Meanwhile, the bottom 90% saw their income decline by around 5%.