Wednesday, June 30, 2010

And now the Pyrenees goes tax haven-free


As the world teeters on the edge of the dreaded double-dip recession (read depression) ordinary people are bracing themselves for tax rises and public service cuts. But rich people are laughing all the way to their tax haven of choice. And despite the brave words of 2009, nothing of any practical use has been implemented against these places by the G-20. The Toronto summit cost a fortune but scored less than zero on virtually all counts (a very poor reflection on Canadian Prime Minister Harper), and claims about progress on signing tax havens up to information exchange treaties (see here for example) are not backed by evidence that exchanges are actually occurring.

We are hoping that next year's G-20 will see more progress on the tax haven front. The French public is far better informed on this subject than in the Anglo-Saxon countries (the latter resolutely ignoring their pernicious role in creating and sustaining these obnoxious and toxic places), and - as we have previously reported - French opposition parties are ratcheting up the pressure on the President, who holds the 2011 G-20 Presidency, to take action. The RĂ©gion Pyrenees has joined the fast-growing list of regions that has signed up to being tax haven-free, which counts as yet another good reason for visiting this beautiful part of France.

Meanwhile, Paris is awash with delicious gossip about the L'Oreal tax fraud case, which threatens the political career of labour minister Eric Woerth, not to mention harming the brand image of that (in)famous company with past connections to far-right political causes.

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