What do Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg and Nevada have in common?
No, contrary to reports from Europe, Nevada is not a tax haven, according to Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller and the governor’s office.
The Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, at the request of the Group of 20 major countries, included the three European countries on a list of offshore financial centers or tax havens.
Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker called the inclusion of his country “a bit incomprehensible,” according to an Agence France Press story today.
If Luxembourg was put on any international list of tax havens, Juncker said Nevada, Delaware and Wyoming should also be named and shamed as offshore financial centers.
But Secretary of State Ross Miller rejected the prime minister’s claim that Nevada was tax haven.
“The prime minister is clearly under intense scrutiny and understandably trying to deflect blame,” Miller said in a statement.
“There is a significant distinction, however, between Nevada’s pro-business legal framework and jurisdictions that provide high levels of banking secrecy,” Miller said. “Nevada is proud of its status as a premier business filing jurisdiction, and that status should never be confused with a lack of transparency in some international banking jurisdictions.”
Daniel Burns, communications director for Gov. Jim Gibbons, took a similar position.
“Nevada is not a tax haven,” Burns said. “We have a very attractive tax climate that makes it a good place to do business.”
Burns said he had not heard that secrecy about Nevada corporate owners had become a national issue, noting that he had lived in the state 20 years.
“I’ve never heard anything that you’re talking about,” Burns said.
The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations three years ago, however, questioned a deputy secretary of state from Nevada, a Delaware official and others about laws that allow corporations to withhold the identity of their owners.
An official told the subcommittee said the Internal Revenue Service was considering “mass audits” of Nevada corporations that do not file tax returns. An IRS official late today did not immediately know whether the agency conducted the audits.
In August 2007, the Justice Department asked a federal judge in St. Louis to stop the Asset Protection Group of Las Vegas from continuing an scheme to help taxpayers cheat the IRS.
The following year, a federal judge found that the Asset Protection Group and two partners were in contempt of court for violating a previous order that barred them from engaging in the asset protection business.
The answer to the above question: Nevada and the three European countries each have less than 10 million population.
Contact reporter John G. Edwards at email@example.com or 702-383-0420.