USA Tops International Tax Haven List, Thanks To Delaware

The Government Accountability Office likes to point its finger at Luxembourg and the Cayman Islands for sheltering tax cheats. But according to the U.K.-based Tax Justice Network, the United States is the biggest tax shelter of 'em all, thanks to the great state of Delaware.

Delaware, says the Tax Justice Network, is "the most secretive financial jurisdiction in the world." That's based on an analysis of 60 financial jurisdictions according to level of secrecy and cooperation with foreign tax authorities.

Luxembourg comes in second, followed by the Switzerland, the Cayman Islands, and the United Kingdom.

Here are some fun facts about Delaware, per TJN's release:

* According to the Delaware Secretary of State's office their operating budget was $12 million in 2007 and they made $24 million in the fees for expedited incorporation filings alone.

* There are currently some 695,000 active entities registered in Delaware, including 50 percent of the corporations publically traded on the U.S. stock exchange.

* New business formations in Delaware are currently running at about 130,000 per annum.

* The growth of private individual deposits by non-residents was most robust in the United States outranking other popular financial jurisdictions such as the Cayman Islands, United Kingdom, and Luxembourg with total non-resident deposits equalling $2.6 trillion in 2007.

Nicole Tichon of U.S. PIRG, probably the foremost homegrown tax-haven basher, said the United States needs to get its tax act together.

"If the U.S. wants to be taken seriously by the international community and try to get their cooperation, then we've got to crack down on what's going on here at home. We can't have it both ways," said Tichon. "Bank secrecy breeds the same problems, the same criminal behavior, and puts up the same roadblocks to law enforcement regardless of where it occurs. As long as the U.S. government looks the other way, it diminishes our credibility on this issue."

The Obama administration talked a good game at first about clamping down on U.S. corporations that abuse tax shelters, but the administration has since waffled.

Click here for the full rankings.

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