Tuesday, August 19, 2008

International News - August 19

Also see Offshore Watch and see this longer list of news stories here.

Country-by-Country reporting: UNCTAD supports it


Aug 19 (TJN) – UNCTAD states that: "Indicators should be reported on a nationally consolidated basis, so that they are useful to stakeholders within a specific country, and so that the indicators can be understood within the context of a specific country. . . . National data, rather than globally consolidated data, should also improve the usefulness and comparability of information" This is just what we have been arguing.

Offshore: is it growing, or shrinking?
Aug 18 (TJN) - "The wealth of the world's high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs1) increased 9.4 percent to US $40.7 trillion in 2007. There are no consolidated figures for the growth in offshore assets - but for those that do, it is clear that the rate of increase in banking, trust and fund assets dramatically outpaces McKinsey's global figure.

Are investment banks bad taxpayers?
http://taxjustice.blogspot.com/2 008/08/are-investment-banks-bad-taxpayers.html
Aug 18 (TJN) – A look at the problem of carried-forward losses, and the creation of corporate non-doms.

Is the penny dropping?
Aug 18 (Tax Research UK) - Richard Murphy looks at consolidated financial statements

The OECD Harmful Tax Competition Report: A Tenth Anniversary Retrospective
Aug 1 (SSRN) By Reuven S. Avi-Yonah - Ten years ago the OECD published its report on Harmful Tax Competition: An Emerging Global Issue. The OECD initiative has met considerable resistance and in some ways has fallen short of its goals. This paper argues that it has been worthwhile and has achieved some success. The paper outlines some future directions for the project.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies fisked
Aug 19 (Guardian) – The media often seeks comment from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) and often call it "independent" or "non-partisan". Richard Murphy examines its latest report, which suggests abolishing tax on all corporate profits, on interest, on wealth and on half of all dividends (as is likely) whilst at the same time suggesting VAT be charged on all food and promoting a massive increase in VAT in general, when that tax is known to be heavily regressive.

Investment banks are bad taxpayers
Aug 17 (FT) - The penny has dropped in London and New York that banks are not reliable sources of tax revenues. Losses from the credit crisis means that some investment banks may not pay taxes, as Michael Bloomberg, mayor of New York, gloomily phrases it, "for years".

OECD attacks UK failure on corruption
Aug 17 (FT) - Leading industrialised nations have fired a stinging broadside at Britain over its failure to tackle corporate bribery overseas, at a time when other countries are pursuing big-name multinationals.

Das Libretto vom Netto
German politicians and media repeat that about 90% of income tax is paid by the rich. This is used as an argument for lowering the top tax rate. The author of this article makes a different calculation, including not just income and capital gains tax but also social security contributions and VAT. [slightly old article, in German] Reminiscent of a recent report from Citizens for Tax Justice: http://www.ctj.org/pdf/taxshares.pdf

The road to restitution
Aug 15 (FT) - Ten years ago this week, a US senator, read out a brief statement announcing that UBS and Credit Suisse, the two biggest Swiss banks, had agreed to pay $1.25bn to Holocaust survivors. The story of the fight to gain restitution for Holocaust survivors, and the struggle to disburse the money.

Liechtenstein to act on banking secrecy
Aug 15 (FT) - Prince Alois, hereditary ruler of Liechtenstein, confirmed on Friday that his tiny Alpine state was poised to seize the initiative after mounting international challenges to its financial sector's controversial bank secrecy.

Liechtenstein to lift some bank secrecy over tax
Aug 15 (Reuters) - Liechtenstein bowed to international pressure on Friday to lift some of the veil of secrecy on its banks and make it harder for wealthy foreigners to hide money there after a German scandal over tax dodgers.

Money heads for offshore havens
Aug 15 (FT) - Tax dodgers are transferring money from Liechtenstein to Panama, Singapore and other secretive offshore centres, intelligence from foreign tax authorities shows. One official said the switch had been prompted by the greater focus on evasion after the theft of client details from LGT and Liechtensteinische Landesbank.

UPDATE 4-Influx of rich clients lift Vontobel net new money
Aug 13 (Reuters) - Vontobel Chief Executive Herbert Scheidt said Germany's probe into tax evasion by Germans in Liechtenstein had led to withdrawals in the "double-digit millions". Scheidt said customers had become increasingly sensitive, but the probe had not changed its Liechtenstein strategy.

Merrill set to avoid UK tax after $29bn loss
Aug 14 (FT) - Merrill Lynch is unlikely to pay corporation tax in the UK for several decades after $29bn (£16bn) of losses suffered by the US investment bank were charged to its London-based subsidiary. The figures, published in Merrill's regulatory filings, emphasise how the meltdown in the US subprime mortgage market is undermining tax receipts for governments far beyond America's borders. They also offer a rare glimpse into the tax management policies of a global financial institution.

Hunting tax dodgers
Aug 14 (FT) - The hunt for tax dodgers is certainly laudable, but sweeping judgments serve little purpose, save the political kind. Tallying with Richard Murphy’s analysis.

Study Tallies Corporations Not Paying Income Tax http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/13/business/13tax.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=tax&st=cse&oref=slogin
Aug 12 (NYT) - Two out of every three United States corporations paid no federal income taxes from 1998 through 2005, according to a report released Tuesday by the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress.

Assembly likely to pass tax hike for millionaires
Aug 19 (pressconnects) - Assembly Democrats are set to approve higher taxes on millionaires and tie property taxes to household incomes when they return to Albany today.

California Budget Impasse Persists As GOP Refuses Income-Tax Rise
Aug 19 (WSJ) - California's months-long budget standoff hit a low when an emergency State Assembly meeting failed to produce a compromise between Democrats and Republicans over how to compensate for a shortfall exceeding $15 billion. At issue is the Democrats' proposal to make up for the deficit largely by increasing taxes on California's wealthiest residents -- a plan that Republicans oppose.

Nigeria: Jang Decries Abuses of Tax Matters
Aug 17 (Leadership [Abuja]) -Governor Jonah Jang of Plateau State has decried the abuse of taxation matters with the result that the tenets of social contract between government and the tax payers are largely been overlooked.

Protests in London over Thaksin
Aug 19 (SMH) - Thousands of Thai protesters have marched on the British embassy in Bangkok to demand Britain refuse asylum to former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his wife, Pojaman, who fled to London last week to escape pending corruption charges.

Compliance burden is far too taxing for individuals
Aug 16 (SMH) - Despite the bleating from business groups, individuals are by far the biggest contributors to the Government's tax coffers. So it is only fair that something desperately needs to be done to reduce the burden of tax compliance on individual taxpayers.


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