Panama Papers, Puerto Rico, and Paying Taxes

Jill Carlson
Aug 23 · 2 min read

They say there are two certainties in life: death and taxes. And while we don’t get know of anyone who has managed to cheat death, we certainly know of people who have dodged their taxes. In this episode we unpack the myth that cryptocurrency can help you evade taxes, walk through the history of offshore accounts, and discuss some of the open questions about paying tax on your bitcoin!

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Show notes and links for the episode 👇🏽 below

For as long as governments have been levying taxes, people and businesses have been trying to evade them — and competing jurisdictions have been providing a way to do so. We call these, of course, tax havens.

Dating back to Ancient Rome, republics, empires, and city-states have fought for commerce and capital flows using tax policy. In the 2nd century BC, the Roman Republic went to war with the successor to Alexander the Great who ruled Macedonia — King Perseus. The isle of Rhodes, a major port known for its low tax rate, was caught quite literally in the middle of the conflict, quibbled over which side to support. When Rome ultimately won, the Republic declared the neighboring island of Delos to be a tax-free area… punishing Rhodes by undercutting her low-tax status and stealing away her commerce and her capital.

Delos and Rhodes constituted the offshore tax havens of their time — the ancient versions of Bermuda, Singapore, Jersey, and the Caymans.

In this episode, we’ll be covering everything from ancient naval raids to 9/11, from biblical sinners to Swiss bankers… we are talking taxes, tax havens, privacy acts, money laundering, and — of course — bitcoin.

History of Tax Havens: http://www.historyandpolicy.org/policy-papers/papers/history-of-tax-havens

200 Years of Offshore Tax Havens: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2013-05-03/offshore-tax-havens-in-spotlight-after-200-year-history

On Bank Secrecy: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bank_secrecy; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_Act_on_Banks_and_Savings_Banks

The (Short!) History of KYC/AML: https://www.fincen.gov/history-anti-money-laundering-laws

The demise of Switzerland’s numbered accounts: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-swiss-secrecy/era-of-bank-secrecy-ends-as-swiss-start-sharing-account-data-idUSKCN1MF13O

The Stairway to Tax Haven game: https://www.icij.org/investigations/panama-papers/stairway-tax-heaven/

2018 IRS Presentation on Crypto and Taxes: https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-utl/2018ntf-bitcoin-cryptocurrency-an-introduction-and-tax-consequences.pdf

What Grinds My Gears

Welcome to What Grinds My Gears, a podcast about the world of cryptocurrency. Each week, we delve into one big idea, and examine through a broader financial, political, and cultural lens to learn from the past, understand the present, and explore the future.

Jill Carlson

Written by

I work with and invest in early stage companies. The centre cannot HODL.

What Grinds My Gears

Welcome to What Grinds My Gears, a podcast about the world of cryptocurrency. Each week, we delve into one big idea, and examine through a broader financial, political, and cultural lens to learn from the past, understand the present, and explore the future.

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