Friday, February 03, 2012

Links Feb 3

Swiss Bank Wegelin Charged With Helping U.S. Clients Evade Taxes Bloomberg Businessweek
Feb 2 - “It’s symbolic in that the United States is saying that if a Swiss bank doesn’t cooperate, it will be indicted. It puts pressure on other Swiss banks to cooperate.” This development is exceedingly important, in the context that in the world of private banking such activity is considered normal. Not a big criminal heist - just normal, in serving your client - so this case helps towards a possible shift in culture.

See also:
Swiss Bank Indicted on U.S. Tax Charges The U.S. Department of Justice

Feb 2 - "IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman said, ' ...Through our efforts, we are gaining access to more and more information on institutions and individuals involved in offshore tax evasion, and you can expect us to pursue all avenues to stop this abuse.” Hat tip: Lucy Komisar.

See also:
Wegelin charged with aiding tax evasion Financial Times

Feb 3 - " Prosecutors allege the bankers took unusual steps to hide transfers ..." Er, no. As we note above, such efforts to serve the client are not unusual in the world of private banking - as explained in Nick Shaxson's Treasure Islands.

Australia: Turning the tax haven tide Australian Financial Review
(Subscription needed)
Feb 3 - "For the first time since the multi-agency investigation into offshore tax havens, the $300 million Project Wickenby, was established in 2006, more illegal funds have flowed back into Australia than have moved overseas." See recent blog post on Project Wickenby here.

Austria hindered the fight against tax evasion Der Standard
(In German)
Feb 2 - An interview with the EU Tax Commissioner, Algirdas Šemeta. He is cited as stating that Austria is blocking effective tax collection by EU states and that this is unacceptable. See references to Austria in earlier blogs here and here. Hat tip: Markus Meinzer.

Breaking the mould - How Latin America is coping with volatile capital flows TJN Latin America
Feb 2 - New report by LatinDADD and the Bretton Woods Project, available via this link in Spanish and English, on measures and techniques applied
to regulate the flows of capital. The report concludes: "Greater regional coordination of these measures could boost their effectiveness while limiting unwanted side effects." Hat tip: Jorge Gaggero.

U.S. How We're Changing the Conversation on Corporate Taxes Across America Citizens for Tax Justice
Feb 2 - "Grassroots groups throughout the country have used Citizens for Tax Justice's report "Corporate Taxpayers & Tax Dodgers," to pressure lawmakers to clean up the tax code."

UK: IFS backs land value tax Guardian

Feb - "The idea is to cut income and business taxes while introducing a land value tax to end our obsession with property and to encourage paid work." Hat tip: Carol Wilcox, Labour Land Campaign. See Tax Justice Focus - Taxing Natural Rents edition.

UK: HMRC launches contractual disclosure facility Financial Times

Feb 2 - "Taxpayers who are not under investigation but want to admit to tax fraud can come clean in exchange for not being criminally investigated under a new HMRC arrangement which came into force this week."

Tide Turning In Italian Tax Evasion Fight Tax-News
Feb 3 - "It is foreseen that the greatest leap forward in the Agency’s combatting of tax evasion will arrive from the Agency’s new “redditometro”... The new system will, after it becomes operational before the middle of this year, be able to trace individuals' expenditure in more than 100 different categories to find disparities between spending and declared incomes."

Is Kim Kardashian Really Guilty of Tax Evasion? GoBankingRates

Feb 3 - Commentary on celebrity tax dodging. "Wealthy individuals have long been able to benefit from various tax loopholes that lower their liability — and it may seem like celebrities get all the special tax breaks due to their popularity in the public eye. But with a savvy financial consultant in their corner, just about any wealthy individual can navigate the fiscal landscape and pay a lower tax rate each year." But that's not fail-safe, as our links above help demonstrate.

Would You Cheat on Your Taxes? Motley Fool

Feb 2 - The author notes: "Last week, I cited IRS data and noted that tax evasion has likely added somewhere between $3 trillion and $5 trillion to the national debt over the last decade -- more than the Bush tax cuts, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the Obama stimulus combined." Check out the poll by the IRS Oversight Board asking taxpayers how they feel about tax evasion, and the author invites you to take the Motley poll ...


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