Transparency and Tax Evasion: Evidence from the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA)

Transparency and Tax Evasion: Evidence from the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA)

By
Lisa De Simone, Rebecca Lester, Kevin Markle
Journal of Accounting Research. November
2019

We examine how U.S. individuals respond to regulation intended to reduce offshore tax evasion. The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) requires foreign financial institutions to report information to the U.S. government regarding U.S. account holders. We first document an average $7.8 billion to $15.3 billion decrease in equity foreign portfolio investment to the United States from tax haven countries after FATCA implementation, consistent with a decrease in “round‐tripping” investments attributable to U.S. investors’ offshore tax evasion. When testing total worldwide investment out of financial accounts in tax havens post FATCA, we find an average decline of $56.6 billion to $78.0 billion. We next provide evidence of other important consequences of this regulation, including increased expatriations of U.S. citizens and greater investment in alternative assets not subject to FATCA reporting, such as residential real estate and artwork. Our study contributes to both the academic literature and policy analysis on regulation, tax evasion, and crime.