Globally, $1 in every 6 goes illegally untaxed, squirreled away through clever accounting, tax havens and shadow companies. The Tax Justice Network has calculated the size of the international shadow economy and drawn up a list of countries and what they lose to tax evasion. Here are the top ten biggest losers, with the estimated lost revenue:
- United States – $337,349,000 ,000
- Brazil – $280,111,000,000
- Italy – $238,723,000,000
- Russia – $221,023,000,000
- Germany – $214,996,000,000
- France – $171,264,000,000
- Japan – $171,147,000,000
- China – $134,385,000,000
- United Kingdom – $109,216,000,000
- Spain – $107,350,000,000
Those are absolute totals. Some countries lose more proportionally to the size of government spending, and some countries are worse than others even within the top ten. Around 8.6% of the US economy is going untaxed, for example, while Russia’s shadow economy accounts for 43.8% of the country’s GDP. Greece or Spain are losing 27% and 22% respectively – an often unreported factor in their sovereign debt problems.
In total, the global economy loses around $3.1 trillion to tax evasion, equivalent to just over 5% of global GDP.