How Big are Illicit Financial Flows? The Hot Phase of IFF Estimations

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In recent years several leaks have given us insight into how the wealthy and criminals hide their money. The boom of leaks has resulted in a ‘hot phase’ in tax regulation. As a result, the number of studies that want to measure illicit financial flows has also increased. This chapter tries to provide an overview of this booming new field. What do all these studies teach us about the seriousness and size of tax avoidance, tax evasion, and money laundering? What is precisely measured, and how? This chapter concludes that the term ‘Illicit Financial Flows’ has become a bit of a floating identifier, a name that is vague enough to be used for many different concepts but at the cost of losing its meaning. We argue that decomposing the problem of illicit financial flows and what each study aims to measure, might give more useful insights.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCombating Fiscal Fraud and Empowering Regulators
Subtitle of host publicationBringing tax money back into the COFFERS
EditorsBrigitte Unger, Lucia Rossel Flores, Joras Ferwerda
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9780198854722
ISBN (Print)9780198854722
Publication statusPublished - 18 Feb 2021


  • Dark number estimations
  • Illicit financial flows
  • Money laundering
  • Profit shifting
  • Tax avoidance
  • Tax evasion
  • Tax gap
  • Trade mispricing


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