Paul L. Caron

Friday, July 26, 2013

Cohen: Does Swiss Bank Secrecy Violate International Human Rights?

Tax Analysts Stephen B. Cohen (Georgetown), Does Swiss Bank Secrecy Violate International Human Rights?, 140 Tax Notes 355 (July 22, 2013):

Prof. Cohen asks whether states like Switzerland, which provide bank secrecy for the offshore accounts of wealthy citizens of developing countries, violate internationally recognized human rights. The United Nations Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights explicitly recognizes rights to adequate food, clothing, housing, health care, clean water, sanitation, and education. Bank secrecy has a significant human rights impact if it deprives developing countries of tax revenues needed to meet basic rights guaranteed by the Covenant. The annual tax gap for developing countries caused by bank secrecy is estimated to range from over $100 billion to several times that amount. Thus, it seems indisputable that bank secrecy impedes the ability of developing countries to fulfill internationally recognized human rights.

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I'm surprised Tax Notes bothered printing this. Cohen's argument proves too much: Anything that doesn't serve the U.N.'s list of rights would be a violation.

Posted by: Scipio | Jul 26, 2013 9:57:14 AM

Sadly, I do not think this article is parody.

All of these UN-declared rights sound wonderful, and on planet Utopia it would be just dandy. But here on Earth that long list of "rights" costs money, and the only way a government can get money to provide rights is to take it from somebody else. Despite the howls of protest from academia, those of us in the real world have seen how well socialism actually works.

Posted by: Todd | Jul 26, 2013 5:40:43 AM