Tax haven, tax heaven

I’m just back from a couple of weeks in France, where the term for tax haven is “paradis fiscal,” directly translated via cognates as fiscal paradise  — or tax heaven.  How they and we got the terms is not clear, but the difference in meaning is not very subtle:  “En anglais, l’expression correspondante est tax haven (« refuge fiscal »).”  We call it a refuge or shelter or maybe, to use an old term, safe harbor; they call it heaven.  Figuring that the United States usually leads the world in tax schemes, I’ll speculate that we can up with haven and the French figured heaven was a more interesting term.

But here’s a quote from a supporter of tax havens:  ” Many European countries translate Tax Haven as Tax Heaven (paradis fiscal, paraisos fiscales).  It’s a very important semantic difference.  It is important, because that translation error occurs, not by chance either, in countries where the most interventionist policies are implemented.”

That assertion contradicts the argument of U.S. multinationals that the USA is the most interventionist country — but I don’t buy the “not by chance” assertion, and I’m willing to believe we are the most interventionist country.  We’re the Superpower, right?  So who can be stronger?


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