Friday, April 20, 2012

Links Apr 20

Billions lost as EAC states dangle tax incentives The Observer
Apr 17 - "Like contestants before judges at a beauty pageant, East African Community countries jostling to look attractive to foreign investors are dangling tax incentives as baits, losing millions of dollars in revenue, a new report notes. The report titled Tax Competition in East Africa; A Race to the Bottom, was prepared by SEATINI, Tax Justice Network, ActionAid and Uganda Debt Network." Hat tip: Alvin Mosioma.

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Tax avoidance uproots vine from which Tanzania's development could spring Guardian

Apr 16 - " There is a growing awareness among Tanzanians that foreign companies often contribute little to the government's coffers because of complicated tax avoidance techniques."

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Tanzania: State Defends Tax Incentives to Investors allAfrica / Tanzania Daily News
Apr 19 - "Tax incentives given to multinational corporations operating in Economic Process Zones and Special Economic Zones create jobs and add value to local exports, Director General of Export Processing Zone Authority (EPZA), Dr Adelhelm Meru has argued. Dismissing a recent ActionAid and Tax Justice Network report which denounced continued government generosity in granting foreign companies tax exemptions, which peaked to 381bn/-between 2008/9 and 2009/10 fiscal years."

Tax havens boost their lobbying efforts The Bureau of Investigative Journalism
Apr 19 - "Britain’s Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies have been boosting their lobbying strength in the UK and Brussels in recent years amidst growing criticism of tax havens. NGOs such as Christian Aid have argued that the Territories’ image as tax havens puts them at ‘serious reputational risk’ and if they continue with their current policies ‘then their international profile as facilitators of corruptions and tax evasion will increase’."

Trusts: last bastion of the Swiss financial center?
Le Temps (In French and subscription only)
Apr 20 - The article describes how trusts hold the bulk of large private fortunes of the world, and provides a brief explanation of how trusts function. Hat tip: Bruno Gurtner. See also TJN's explanation - In trusts we trust.

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Global Outlook for Trust & Estate Business remains positive The Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP)

Mar 8 - Interesting to note, in the context of the above. "The Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners’ (STEP) latest global quarterly confidence survey shows confidence remains high in both the immediate and long term outlooks for the industry."

The EU sets out its red lines on Switzerland Tax Research UK
Apr 20 - Europolitics has an important article on the EU’s attitude to Switzerland, in the form of an interview with Taxation Commissioner Algirdas Semeta. In it he says: "We have identified the amendments that need to be made to the EU Savings Directive in order to strengthen it and close its loopholes, and we want to achieve equivalent amendments to the EU-Swiss savings agreement ... The EU is not prepared to back-track on good governance, nor will we accept bank secrecy that can support tax evasion."

Top U.S., Swiss officials to discuss tax secrecy Reuters

Apr 19 - "Switzerland's finance minister is expected to meet with the head of the U.S. Department of Justice in coming days to try to solve a row over untaxed money in secret bank accounts .. A global crackdown on tax evasion by cash-strapped governments in recent years has chipped away Switzerland's tradition of banking secrecy, which helped it build up a $2 trillion offshore wealth management industry."

Leading bank sponsors five university chairs swissinfo
Apr 20 - "The UBS bank has announced plans to sponsor the creation of five economics chairs at Zurich University as part of a multi-million franc investment in education ... However, experts warn that the increasing involvement of commercial firms risks undermining the independence, continuity and focus of academic education in the long run."

Obama Administration Scores a Victory for Honest Taxpayers Everywhere Citizens for Tax Justice

Apr 19 - "On Tuesday, advocates for transparency scored a victory while tax evaders suffered a loss." See TJN blog on the story here.

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Florida bankers object to disclosing identities of foreign depositors Orlando Sentinel

Apr 18 - Predictable complaining on the part of Florida Bankers on moves towards transparency. Hat tip: Clark Gascoigne. See Treasure Islands blog for an explanation - "We all know of Wall Street having captured politicians in Washington. Well here we have a more granular story: the politicians of Florida captured by tax haven interests."

Kirk deserves praise for stance against tax havens Herald Scotland

Apr 18 - "Where the use of tax havens by large companies is concerned, the Church of Scotland, for one, has strong misgivings, and has made the admirable decision to act on the issue. The Church's Special Commission on the Purposes of Economic Activity will seek support from the General Assembly next month to ask companies from which the church procures large amounts of goods and services to reveal how much they use tax havens ... With tax havens being established worldwide, there is no easy legislative fix. A climate in which companies feared damage to their reputation, however, could help reverse this worrying trend."

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