Links May 18
May 18 - "Teams of private bankers working for powerful banks court wealthy people from distant shores with this sales pitch: Move your cash to our country. We will keep it safe and secret. That was the modus operandi of UBS, the Swiss banking giant that was forced to admit holding billions of dollars in covert accounts for Americans trying to avoid U.S. taxes. It is also a tactic used by big American banks to solicit deposits from wealthy citizens in Third World countries." Hat tip Jim Henry.
Capitalists Who Make vs. Capitalists Who Take Dylan Ratigan
May 16 - What’s the difference between productive wealth and destructive wealth? What if Gross Domestic Product made a fundamental distinction between the two — between making money by producing real value for others, versus just making money by exploiting others?
Hong Kong's rich-poor divide still the world's worst as gulf widens monsters and critics
May 11 - Hong Kong - Hong Kong's rich-poor divide has widened, cementing the city's global top spot for wealth disparity.
France Mulls New Tax on Top Earners tax-news.com
May 11 - Pierre Méhaignerie, President of the French National Assembly Social Affairs Committee, has recently revealed that he has been given the go-ahead from President Nicolas Sarkozy to submit a parliamentary initiative imposing an exceptional contribution on top earners in France.
Tax Reform: Trusts will no longer escape French taxes BourseReflex (In French)
May 11 - In France, trusts that until now have allowed their beneficiaries to avoid paying taxes in France, will be taxed in accordance with reforms that come into effect on 1 January 2012. The article reports how Tax Information Exchange Agreements (TIEA's) will help reveal assets hidden in trusts - although as we've frequently pointed out these TIEAS have very limited effect. See here for the way forward.
NYTimes on the new shadow insurance system Treasure Islands
May 13 - Best-selling "Treasure Islands" explains how small U.S. states such as Delaware were serving essentially as offshore centres within the U.S., offering secrecy and lax regulation of various kinds, and offering themselves as ‘captive states’ willing to write their laws in pretty much whatever ways private interests (from elsewhere) wanted, while no consultation with anyone outside the tiny rarefied circle of insiders. A new and excellent New York Times story, about the captive insurance industry, fits the Treasure Islands framework so closely as to be almost spooky.
Treasure Islands: An Offshore Awakening truthout
May 15 - If you have not yet read Treasure Islands, check out this excerpt from the prologue of the book.
Channel Islands retailers 'involved in postal scam' The Telegraph
May11 - Channel Islands online retailers are potentially denying the UK government millions of pounds of tax with an alleged postal scam that compounds a VAT loophole already being exploited offshore.
U.S. tax burden at lowest level since '58 USA Today
May 6 - The total tax burden — for all federal, state and local taxes — dropped to 23.6% of income in the first quarter, according to Bureau of Economic Analysis data. By contrast, individuals spent roughly 27% of income on taxes in the 1970s, 1980s and the 1990s — a rate that would mean $500 billion of extra taxes annually today, one-third of the estimated $1.5 trillion federal deficit this year.