Tuesday, September 01, 2009

U.S. nonprofits, facing withering fire, join tax haven fray

Charles Gnaedinger of the highbrow tax publication Tax Analysts has just published an article, which we reproduce with their permission, that starts:

"Tax Justice Network USA (TJN) is coordinating a network of nonprofit organizations to educate the public, the media, and Washington policymakers on the harm caused by cross-border tax evasion and the abuse of secrecy jurisdictions."

This is most exciting for us. TJN's activities in the United States, through a reinvigorated TJN-USA, are now ratcheting up a gear. As is right and proper,

The new network comprises groups active in preserving the environment, ensuring government and corporate accountability, protecting whistle-blowers, promoting economic development, fighting money laundering, and advocating on tax issues."

In other words, this affects everyone. The legendary Washington lawyer Jack Blum, chair of TJN-USA, explains why, as Tax Analysts note:

"These issues are so bound up with each other," Blum said. "The biggest single interconnection point is simply if you want to get around any regulation, be it environmental, be it bank regulatory, you go to the offshore world," he said.

Blum reminded attendees at a recent meeting what TJN has long argued, that the tax havens (or secrecy jurisdictions, as we prefer to call them) are also regulatory havens

"and that every device which was a tax evasion device was also used to get around all of the regulatory issues that the banks wanted to get around."

And, he added, this fight will not be easy.

"The bad guys are in there in force, and when I say 'in force,' I mean by the hundreds and hundreds of lobbyists," he said. "For every thing we say or do, there are probably 50 people on the other side brandishing campaign contributions and God knows what else.

We have long understood from clashing with authorities in Jersey, the Cayman Islands, London and elsewhere (and something very unpleasant is happening to some brave friends of ours in the giant and dirty tax haven of Luxembourg right now, for example), how ugly this can get, with smears, intimidation, and worse. And those folks in Washington aren't known for pulling their punches. So it is essential that we get support, and major support, from as wide a base as possible, as fast as possible. As Blum noted:

"You can come in and talk about great policy . . . but without lots of other people getting into the mix and raising hell from a variety of perspectives, we're not going to move anything."

Expect fireworks.

Contact TJN-USA's Executive Director Sarah Lewis, sarah.lewis (at) taxjusticenetworkusa.org, +1 202 550-6504, and see her in action here.


Blogger Rick Battams said...

Hmm. taxjusticenetworkusa.org website is 'parked'.

Regardless. This is good news. (I'll sort it out eventually.) North America is 'silent' about bankind secrecy, effectively, as Linda McQuaig (Toronto Star) recently noted.

Imagine my surprise when, desperate for something to read last night (Sept 21), I saw a Globe And Mail in a clear plastic garbage bag here where I work as a (miserable) security guard, and it turned out to be interesting. I'm not a Globe reader. Too rightwing for me. All of our dailies are of course. But the article that thrilled me was about Clearstream, which I first read about in 2002 (Nation magazine). I've still got the hard copy!

I thought I'd post something online, at the Globe website, after taking a quick look around to see who else might be talking about this. I was surprised to find nothing current on my favorite tax haven 'watch' (let's say) sites.

11:42 pm  

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