Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Super-rich tax cheats and their lawyers

If you have a few spare minutes, take a look at this well-crafted news snippet, which covers the current U.S. Senate Permanent Sub-Committee hearing into the dark side of Swiss banking giant UBS and the European principality of Liechtenstein (the latter often associated with the type of business that even the grubbiest of Swiss cantons would prefer not to handle).

In an exquisite moment towards the end of the film, David Lowy's lawyer inadvertently gives the game away on camera, revealing his strategy to distract public attention from the core issues. A rare moment of honest journalists being able to penetrate behind the wall of spin and nonsense that protects the rich and powerful from public scrutiny.

Also note the quote from Warren Buffett:

". . in our office 15 people cooperated in a survey out of 18 - my total tax - payroll taxes plus income taxes - mine came to 17.7% - the average for office was 32.9% there wasn't anyone in the office from the receptionist up who paid a lower tax rate. And I have no tax planning, I don't have an accountant, I don't have tax shelters, I just do what congress tells me to do."

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