Monday, February 09, 2009

Links - Feb 9

** Also see our searchable archive of past story summaries; and Offshore Watch **

From the high street to a tax haven
Feb 9 (Guardian) - Boots the Chemist has taken its headquarters from Nottingham to the canton of Zug, Switzerland. A private equity company loaded it with debt, whose interest payments are so large that they have wiped out any profit in the UK and all the tax that used to go with it. Also featuring Gibraltar and Luxembourg.

The electronics giant and the Manx connection
Feb 9 (Guardian) – The electronics retailer Dixons uses the laws of the Isle of Man to its advantage. With interactive explanation here. http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/interactive/2009/feb/09/1

UK plc must do its bit for broken Britain
Feb 9 (Guardian) - Britain has a rubbish infrastructure and a substandard workforce, as corporate lobbies point out. But it is right that business makes a contribution to the infrastructure on which it relies. To listen to corporate lobbying groups, you would imagine companies are happy to do their bit but are forced into offshore arrangements by the demands of a punitive tax regime.

The tax gap debate: Principles, what principles? Another KPMG update
Feb 9 (Guardian) - The 'set of principles' that KPMG's head of tax says governs the firm's approach to tax planning didn't turn up over the weekend. I'm now told by KPMG's press office that there is "an internal discussion to see if we can provide something".

The tax gap debate: Are aggressive tax avoidance schemes a thing of the past?
Feb 9 (Guardian) - Most of the big four accountancy firms claim the promotion of aggressive tax avoidance schemes, as reported by the Guardian on Saturday, is a thing of the past. Whether you believe that or not, you can't trust their exponents not to return to them if the conditions are right. Long-term answers are needed. Hit them in their wallets?

Loophole logic
Feb 9 (Guardian) - If tax avoidance is legal, is there a problem? The debate has touched a nerve among Guardian bloggers

The system must change
Feb 9 (Guardian) – A view from the other side. Rather than knock firms for minimising their tax bills, we should focus on reforming the rules.

The poor take the biggest hit
Feb 9 (Guardian editorial) - It has been called the "ugliest chapter in global economic affairs since slavery". Of all the victims of the tax scams we are investigating, those that suffer most are in the poorest countries.

FSA criticises ‘watered down’ reports
Feb 9 (FT) - Lord Turner said strengthening international co-operation would mean allowing independent institutions like the IMF to publish reports without interference. “One of the problems the IMF has had in the past is that when it tries to issue warnings, that those warnings are watered down under political pressure from large powerful countries,” he said, adding there has never been one of those IMF reports on the US financial system “because the US didn’t want there to be one.”

Brussels proposes abolishing bank secrecy for non-residents
Bruxelles propose d'abolir le secret bancaire pour les non-résidents
Feb 3 (Les Echos) - The European Commissioner for Tax, Lazlo Kovacs, has offered two proposed EC directives. Member states (Austria, Belgium and Luxembourg) would not be able to invoke their witholding tax status as a basis for refusing to provide information. But information exchange would happen on request, not automatically. The previous negotiations took 14 years; he hopes for adoption by the end of 2009. In French.

Andorra wants to get off tax haven list.
Feb 8 (AFP) - The head of the Government of Andorra, Albert Pintat, said the principality wants to get "off the list of tax havens” after French President Nicolas Sarkozy said he wants to" review relations " with Andorra. In French.

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