Oldest Tax Haven
Taxation has been around since 6,000 BC (in Ancient Mesopotamia). Mesopotamia is the name of the Tigris-Euphrates river system (corresponding to most of Iraq, Kuwait, the eastern parts of Syria, and regions along the Turkish-Syrian and Iran-Iraq borders). Since then taxpayers have been reducing their tax liabilities by utilising the differing tax laws operating in different countries. In Ancient Greece, some of the Greek Islands were used as depositories by the sea traders of the era to place their foreign goods to avoid the two-percent tax imposed by the city-state of Athens on imported goods.
Switzerland was the first “true” tax haven and became a tax haven immediately following World War I. As Switzerland remained neutral during the Great War they could maintain a low level of taxes as they didn’t have the high infrastructure costs other countries had. In contrast, many European governments raised taxes sharply to help pay for reconstruction efforts following the devastation of World War I. This resulted in an influx of capital into Switzerland for tax related reasons.
"You’d be stupid not to try to cut your tax bill and those that don’t are stupid in business"
- Bono: U2