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This is generally thought to be an inadequate definition of a tax haven, but is politically expedient, because it includes the small tax havens (with little power in the international political arena) but exempts the powerful countries with tax haven aspects such as the US and UK.In deciding whether or not a jurisdiction is a tax haven, the first factor to look at is whether there are no or nominal taxes.

This estimate included financial assets only: "My method probably delivers a lower bound, in part because it only captures financial wealth and disregards real assets.

The term most commonly refers to those countries or jurisdictions that have a low-tax or no-tax regime or which offer generous tax incentives.

Some definitions focus purely on tax: for example, a widely cited academic paper describes a tax haven as a jurisdiction where particular taxes, such as an inheritance tax or income tax, are levied at a low rate or not at all.

The OECD estimated in 2007 that capital held offshore amounted to between trillion and trillion, making up approximately 6–8% of total global investments under management. Department of Treasury estimated that in 2011 the Caribbean Banking Centers, which include Bahamas, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Netherlands Antilles and Panama, held almost trillion dollars in United States debt. Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that 83 of the 100 largest U. publicly traded corporations and 63 of the 100 largest contractors for the U. federal government were maintaining subsidiaries in countries generally considered havens for avoiding taxes.

A more recent study by Gabriel Zucman of the London School of Economics estimated the amount of global cross-border wealth held in tax havens (including the Netherlands and Luxembourg as tax havens for this purpose) at US.6 trillion, of which US.46 trillion was held in Switzerland alone. Similarly, Desai, Foley and Hines in the Journal of Public Economics found that: "in 1999, 59% of U. firms with significant foreign operations had affiliates in tax haven countries", although they did not define "significant" for this purpose. The GAO did not review the companies' transactions to independently verify that the subsidiaries helped the companies reduce their tax burden, but said only that historically the purpose of such subsidiaries is to cut tax costs.This creates a situation of tax competition among jurisdictions.