Thursday, June 30, 2011

Links Jun 30

Malawi U-turn on salt, water, meat VAT The Nation
Jun 28 - 'The Malawian government succumbed to public pressure on Monday and removed the newly introduced value added tax on some essential items such as salt, water supply and meat. The VAT measures had been announced by the Minister for Finance when he presented the 2011-2012 budget on June 3rd.'

South Africa's income gap calls for decisive action now The New Age
Jun 28 - South Africa’s levels of income inequality are amongst the highest in the world. The article suggests that South Africa should follow the example of countries that have managed to achieve low levels of income inequality through government policies, that include 'more redistributive progressive taxation systems'.

Boosting tax practice through expertise integration in Africa Business Day

Jun 27 - 'Tax professionals in Africa have realised that there is need for them to integrate their expertise to improve tax practice and administration within the African continent while also driving their internally generated revenue. Currently driven by tax experts from Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Liberia, and Cote d’ Ivoire, tax practitioners under the aegis of Association of African Tax Institutes (AATI) are now sharing ideas ...'

Biggest Tax Avoiders Win Most Gaming $1 Trillion U.S. Tax Break Bloomberg
Jun 28 - Great report by Jesse Drucker on the repatriation issue - 'Cisco Systems Inc. has cut its income taxes by $7 billion since 2005 by booking roughly half its worldwide profits at a subsidiary at the foot of the Swiss Alps that employs about 100 people.' ...

See also:

Don't Fall For Corporate Repatriation Tax policy Center / Politico
Jun 27 - 'Some observers are calling for a "repatriation holiday" on profits held by foreign subsidiaries. Some members of Congress, eager to stimulate our fragile economy, are listening. They shouldn't. A tax holiday on repatriated funds is a proven failure — expensive in both direct and indirect ways...'

See also:

U.S. : A Charlie Brown Congress? The Hill

Jun 29 - A nice analogy on the “repatriation tax holiday” situation. Hat tip Scott Klinger.

U.S. Is One of the Least Taxed Developed Countries Citizens for Tax Justice

Jun 30 - A new report by our friends at CTJ on why a revenue increase is the obvious answer to budget deficits - 'Some members of Congress are threatening to allow the U.S. to default on its debt obligations — and send financial markets into a tailspin — unless the President agrees to large, sudden cuts in the budget deficit without any increase in tax revenue. But the most recent data reveal that the U.S. is already one of the least taxed countries in the developed world.'

U.S.: Number of High Income Taxpayers Who Owe Nothing in Income Taxes Just Doubled Citizens for Tax Justice

Jun 29 - The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently released new data showing that the number of individuals paying zero US income taxes on an adjusted gross income (AGI) of $200,000 or more almost doubled between 2007 and 2008...

Canada: Press conference at Parliament puts the spotlight on tax fairness
Canadians for Tax Fairness
Jun 13 - 'Flaherty’s axe or fairer tax? Time to discuss the full range of options ... The dirty little secret that most government leaders will not admit is that a fairer and more balanced tax system could generate tens of billions of dollars in new public revenue. The numbers are truly breathtaking.'

Quelle Surprise! Greece is REALLY REALLY Bad at Collecting Taxes! naked capitalism

Jun 25 - An 'intriguing and damning' description of the Greek tax system.

When will Jersey realise that as its finance industry declines its got to look for Plan B? Tax Research UK

Jun 30 - 'Profits in the [Jersey] finance industry last year were at their lowest levels since records began, according to official figures released today....the finance industry in Jersey is failing. Its contribution to the States is falling, rapidly, both as a result of policy failings and as a result of its own financial decline. Change is inevitable.'


Obama tells Republicans to "take on their sacred cows"

President Obama has confronted his Republican opponents head on over their policies of tax breaks for rich people and powerful corporations.

Across the world, conservative parties wedded to special interest groups and lobby interests, are calling for cuts on public services and tax hikes on ordinary people (the recent VAT increase in the UK being a case in point). But they fight tooth and nail to protect the accumulated tax exemptions and subsidies payable to their rich sponsors (and, yes, this includes themselves).

These are the 'sacred cows' of the hard right, which claims to favour fairness, but actually favours privilege and class. As the Guardian reports today:

"The president, in a rare hour-long news conference, called on Republicans to "take on their sacred cows" – including tax breaks for "millionaires and billionaires, oil companies and corporate jet owners" – in reaching a deal on Congress legislating an increase in government borrowing from the present $14.3tn (£8.9tn) limit, without which the US may be unable to meet its obligations within weeks."

The Republican's sacred cows include the USA's staggering military budget, which they refuse to budge on, even as they slash and burn social programmes across the nation. Obama is right to also challenge them on this:

"Obama said more than $1tn in cuts have already been agreed but that other areas of the budget, including defence spending – considered untouchable by some Republicans – must be scrutinised. He said that retaining tax breaks for the wealthy will be at the expense of programmes for the less privileged."

These are the battle lines on which the 2012 presidential elections will be fought. Wealth and privilege versus the interests of ordinary Americans. As usual, tax justice is at the core.


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Neue Zürcher Zeitung: the Swiss dog that didn't bark

We have just received the following story from Switzerland.

On Monday an 81 year old lawyer confessed before a New York court to not having declared income amounting to US$26.4 million from his tax return. As a result he has been fined a stunning $9.8 million. A decision on whether he will also have to serve a prison sentence will be taken on the 27th of September.

The lawyer had placed his money on a Swiss UBS account via an offshore company. However, when UBS came under investigation by the US tax authority, he transferred his money in May 2008 to the Wegelin & Co. Private Bankers.

The Tagesanzeiger and the Bund, two major Swiss newspapers located in Zurich and Bern respectively, have described this as an “embarrassing case” for the Wegelin Bank.

However, what intrigues about this story is that the Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ) did not deem this story worthy of any notice beyond simple reproducing the Reuters news feed on its online edition. Nothing can be found in today or yesterday’s print edition. But maybe this isn’t so surprising after all when you consider that Konrad Hummler, one of the managing partners of the Wegelin bank, has recently also been appointed president of the board of directors of the Neue Zürcher Zeitung. This starts to smell a little less fresh.

Rather than report on this “embarrassing case”, the NZZ chose to publish the following advert:

“I'm not a client at Wegelin&Co. because I prefer to swim in my money”. Dagobert Duck.
Wegelin&Co. Private bankers since 1741. For all who prefer to invest their money.

Amusing, isn't it? Only for those who prefer to evade their taxes . . .

What's not so funny is that the linkages between a private bank and a major Swiss newspaper appear to stand in the way of allowing a public discussion about the behaviour of Swiss banks. It mutes questions such as whether we, as Swiss citizens, consider it right that the torch is merely passed from the big banks to small private banks, while the basic business model of helping foreigners evade their taxes remains intact.

Two years ago Konrad Hummler declared he didn't care whether Bank Wegelin was on a US-list of institutions suspected of enabling tax evasion, as long as the Bank conforms to Swiss law. This will remain the case so long as there is no automatic information exchange to support cooperation between one jurisdiction and another. And instances like the one described here help keep automatic information exchange a non-issue in Switzerland.


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A little house of secrets on the Great Plains

In 2009 TJN ranked the United States of America as the world's leading secrecy jurisdiction. We based our assessment on a variety of factors, including the activities of corporate secrecy providers in states like Delaware, Nevada and Wyoming. When we spoke with people working in the corporate secrecy industry in these states we were shocked by how up front they were about protecting felons. Now Reuters has published the following:

CHEYENNE/ATLANTA - The secretive business havens of Cyprus and the Cayman Islands face a potent rival: Cheyenne, Wyoming.

At a single address in this sleepy city of 60,000 people, more than 2,000 companies are registered. The building, 2710 Thomes Avenue, isn't a shimmering skyscraper filled with A-list corporations. It's a 1,700-square-foot brick house with a manicured lawn, a few blocks from the State Capitol.

Neighbors say they see little activity there besides regular mail deliveries and a woman who steps outside for smoke breaks. Inside, however, the walls of the main room are covered floor to ceiling with numbered mailboxes labeled as corporate "suites."

Read on here


ECOSOC: the world needs an intergovernmental commission on tax cooperation

TJN advocates for international cooperation to protect nations from abusive tax practices, including evasion and the race to the bottom in corporate taxation. This can only be achieved through a legitimate global organisation with recognised political status. No such organisation currently exists. The OECD is the pretender to this position, but lacks legitimacy and too many of its prominent members are tax havens/secrecy jurisdictions. We therefore advocate for the United Nations to strengthen its role in this area by creating an Intergovernmental Commission on International Cooperation on Tax Matters (the political body) supported by an advisory Committee of Experts along the lines of the existing Committee (though far, far better resourced).

This option is one of several which will be discussed in a just few weeks at the annual session of the UN's Economic and Social Council. TJN is one of the many signatories to the following letter to governments across the world urging them to take the necessary action towards creating an Intergovernmental Commission.

28th June 2011

We, the undersigned, are writing to request that, at the upcoming deliberations of the Economic and Social Council 2011, your government endorses the proposal for creating an Intergovernmental Commission on International Cooperation in Tax Matters, while retaining the UN Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters as a subsidiary body.

In December of 2008, the Doha Review Conference on Financing for Development called for the Economic and Social Council to examine ways to strengthen institutional arrangements for international cooperation in tax matters. In the report requested by resolution 2010/33 of the Economic and Social Council, the Secretary General elaborated on a number of options to achieve that goal.
We are writing to express our strong support to option 3 stated in such report, namely, the creation of an intergovernmental commission on international cooperation in tax matters, while retaining the UN Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters as a subsidiary body.

Developing countries have a large stake on issues of mobilization of domestic resources as these are a cornerstone of efforts for financing development. For this reason, while there is a general need to strengthen and broaden the participation of developing countries in global economic governance, nowhere is such need more justified than in the area of intergovernmental cooperation on tax matters. Such intergovernmental decisions influence the key principles that determine and constrain developing countries’ ability to succeed in taking their fair share of revenue in an environment where the tax base is increasingly global and capacity to tax increasingly interdependent. Without an effective representation of their interests, rhetorical commitments to enhance and strengthen mobilization of domestic resources risk being deprived of any meaning.

The seriousness of these considerations is further underscored by the current role of mobilization of domestic resources in the overall development finance landscape. The financial crisis of 2008-09 and continued financial turmoil in its wake have resulted in development finance flows being negatively affected. Climate change has wiped out some of the gains booked by the concerted effort to achieve some development goals and raised the need for additional resources to fund mitigation and adaptation.

All these factors underline the imperative for sustainable sources of finance- through ODA but ever more importantly through setting conditions that enable countries to raise their own financial resources including through taxation.
Against this backdrop, the lack of a forum that could provide the required weight to the interests of developing countries on international cooperation in tax matters is all the more striking. Whilst the OECD has considerable expertise, and is able, on occasion, to consult non-members or invite them to meetings – its primary focus and expertise relates to established, industrialised economies. As recently put by an OECD representative speaking at the UN, the OECD does this only in order to seek a broader range of views on decisions that, ultimately, are a matter for its own membership to make.

The challenges and needs of poor economies with respect to taxation are very different and cooperation between developed and poor economies on taxation issues should take place in a more inclusive and representative forum.
The widespread use of the UN Tax Committee’s model tax convention in negotiations, the interest in its practical manual on transfer pricing, and the strong support from developing countries for an intergovernmental Commission on International Cooperation in Tax Matters underlines the effectiveness and representativeness of the UN in the global effort towards greater tax cooperation .

It is therefore essential that funds be found to support these and to finance greater developing country participation in meetings, either from reallocating existing UN funds or from a reprioritisation of resources currently made available to other international bodies, such as the OECD task force and the IMF trust fund.

Thank you in advance for your kind consideration of this request.

Sincerely yours,
Signatories: -

Alex COBHAM, Chief Policy Adviser, Christian Aid, UK

Bernd NILLES, Secretary General,
- Núria MOLINA, Director, EURODAD
Lars KOCH, Head of Policy, IBIS, Denmark

John CHRISTENSEN, Director, Tax Justice Network International Secretariat

- Rudy DE MEYER, 11.11.11 - Coordination of Flemish North South Movement,Belgium
- Anna THOMAS, Head of Economic and Social Development, ActionAid UK - Martin TSOUNKEU, General Representative, Africa Development Interchange Network (ADIN), Cameroon - Elvire EUGENE, Executive Director, Association Femmes Soleil d'Haiti (AFASDA), Haiti - Mark HERKENRATH, Alliance Sud – the Swiss Coalition of Development Organisations, Switzerland - John LANGMORE, Chair, Anglican National Public Affairs Commission and Professor, School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Melbourne, Australia - Prem SIKKA, Director, Association for Accountancy & Business Affairs, UK - Andreas MISSBACH, Private Finance Programme, Joint Managing Director, Berne Declaration, Switzerland - Andrea BARANES, Finance Campaigner, Campagna per la riforma della Banca mondiale (CRBM), Italy - Helen OJARIO, Alternate Representative, Carmelite NGO, USA - Germaine PRICE, Main Representative, Company of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, USA - Laust Leth GREGERSEN, Head of Secretariat, CONCORD Denmark, Denmark - Griselda MARTINEZ-MORALES, New York Main representative, Congregations of St. Joseph, USA - P.A. SURENDRAN, General Secretary, Consumers Association, Palakkad, Kerala, India - Margaret MAYCE, NGO Representative, Dominican Leadership Conference, USA - Markus BRUN, Head of Policy, Fastenopfer, Switzerland - Mama KOITE, President, FEMNET (African Women’s Development and communication Network), Mali - Emira WOODS, Co-Director, Foreign Policy in Focus, Washington DC, USA - Mathilde DUPRÉ, Coordinator, French coalition “Plateforme Paradis Fiscaux et Judiciaires", France - Raymond W. BAKER, Director, Global Financial Integrity, USA - James A. PAUL, Executive Director, Global Policy Forum, USA - Fatima RODRIGO, PBVM, International Presentation Association of the Sisters of the Presentation, USA - François GOBBE, Kairos Europe WB, Belgium - Janice G FOERDE, chairperson, K.U.L.U.-Women and Development, Denmark - Steven O'NEIL, SM, Marianists International, USA - Marie DENNIS, Director and Kathy MCNEELY, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, USA - Celine PARAMUNDA, UN Representative, Medical Mission Sisters, USA - Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, USA - Martha GALLAHUE, Main Representative, National Ethical Service, USA - Jo Marie GRIESGRABER, Executive Director, New Rules for Global Finance, USA - Elin ENGE, Executive Director, Norwegian Forum for Environment and Development, Norway - Kevin DANCE, Main Representative/ CEO, Passionists International and Chair of NGO Committee on Financing for Development, USA - Thomas BRENNAN, SDB, Salesian Missions, USA - Faith COLLIGAN, DC, Sisters of Charity Federation, USA - Eva HANFSTAENGL, Coordinator, Social Justice in Global Development e.V., international, based in Germany - Katrin MCGAURAN, Researcher, SOMO (Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations), The Netherlands - Dedi HARYADI, Chairman, Taxation Advocacy Group (TAG), Indonesia - Nicole TICHON, Executive Director, Tax Justice Network USA, USA - Hans-Rudolf SCHELLER, Member Tax Justice Network, Switzerland - Richard MURPHY, Director, Tax Research LLP, UK - Raffaele SALINARI, President, Terre des Hommes International Federation, Austria - Bhumika MUCHHALA, Researcher, Third World Network, Malaysia - Susan GEORGE, Board President, Transnational Institute and on behalf of the Fellows and Associates of TNI, The Netherlands - Hernán CORTÉS, Policy and Communications’ Officer, UBUNTU Forum, Spain - Catherine FERGUSON, Coordinator, UNANIMA International, USA - Daniel LEBLANC O.M.I., VIVAT International, USA - Josep XERCAVINS, WDGpa – World Democratic Governance project association, Spain


Monday, June 27, 2011

Jersey spins confusion over zero-ten

The States of Jersey has issued a press release (see below) about its failed zero-ten policy. The press release is designed to delude the people of Jersey about the current status of that policy, and Jersey's Evening Post, easily confused and anxious to please the powers that be, has fallen hook, line and sinker for the line being peddled.

Let's help unravel the mess. The original zero-ten proposals were rejected in February 2011. This came as no surprise to us, and indeed should not have caused surprise in Jersey since Richard Murphy had advised very early on in the policy making process that the proposals would fail for several reasons.

Now the States of Jersey have submitted a different set of proposals. The proposals will be considered by ECOFIN in early Autumn 2011, with a decision expected before the year end. The ECOFIN statement acknowledges that the States of Jersey has made a submission. It says nothing more than that. Philip Ozouf (pictured) might well "look forward to a positive outcome" later this year, but that is merely hope on his part. There is simply no basis on which the JEP can justify its headline "EU gives strong signal that zero-ten will be accepted". This is poor journalism and can only add to the general sense of confusion among Jersey people about the government's tax policies.

ECOFIN considers Jersey’s zero-ten tax regime

ECOFIN met on 20 June 2011 to formally complete the assessment of Jersey’s existing zero-ten tax regime. This meeting focussed on the business tax regime as it stands at the moment, without considering Jersey’s intention to repeal those elements of zero-ten which were deemed harmful by the EU Code of Conduct Group.

These amendments are due to be considered by the Code Group later this year.
In its report to ECOFIN the EU Code Group has welcomed the proposed amendments to the zero-ten business tax regime. The report states –

“Jersey [has] informed the Group about the proposed legislative amendments to [its] legislation, with a view to removing any harmful elements. The Group welcomed these developments and agreed to review such legislative amendments when discussing the rollback of these harmful regimes under the Polish presidency.”

The EU Code of Conduct Group is expected to assess the amended zero-ten regime in September, with a final decision on the proposed amendments expected from ECOFIN in December 2011.

Throughout the assessment of Jersey’s business tax regime, it was clear that the concerns of the Code Group focused on the interaction of the deemed distribution and attribution provisions with the 0% general rate of tax that applies to Jersey resident companies. This view was supported by the findings of a review by the EU Council’s High Level Working Party on Tax Matters in January 2011.

The Treasury Minister, Senator Philip Ozouf, said in response to the Code Group report “Now that the formal assessement of our existing zero-ten regime has been completed, we can look forward to achieving a positive outcome later this year when our proposed amendments are considered.

“The EU Code Group has already welcomed our proposals to repeal deemed distribution and attribution and has agreed to review these legislative amendments later this year under the Polish presidency.

"The welcoming of our action by the Code Group is, in our view, a further important and positive sign, which has been reinforced by statements from London that zero-ten without the deemed distribution provisions is not in conflict with the Code criteria"


For further information: please contact Wendy Martin on 01534 440435

For interviews, please contact the Treasury Minister, Senator Philip Ozouf on 07797 713838


Glastonbury without soul

The violent intervention by U2 security guards this weekend, which led to broken fingers and intimidating behaviour, and the total destruction of Art Uncut's balloon (shown here minutes before the guards struck), challenges Glastonbury's claim to be anything other than a commercial rock fest with pretensions (not helped by Beyonce's ghastly Las Vegas style closing act, which surely has no place in rural Somerset). Shame.
More about the story here.


Friday, June 24, 2011

Links Jun 24

Reforming the Tax System to Promote Environmental Objectives: An Application to Mauritius S4TP
Jun 3 - This report summarizes important attributes of the environmental taxation scheme in Mauritius, and presents potential reforms that could be adapted in many developing country contexts.

A lovely little detail from Switzerland Golem XIV - Thoughts
Jun 23 - 'The Swiss banks have very nearly run out of bank deposit box space. ... The last few weeks have seen such a torrent of wealthy Europeans wanting to get their 'assets' out of Europe and in to a Swiss bank...'

Plutonomy - the Citigroup plan for the mega-rich - at cost to everyone else Tax Research UK

Jun 24 - On a report that Citigroup published and then tried to suppress. Amongst the report's statements: 'Beyond war, inflation, the end of the technology/productivity wave, and financial collapse, we think the most potent and short-term threat would be societies demanding a more ‘equitable’ share of wealth.'

Transocean Will Fight Norwegian Tax-Evasion Claim Bloomberg
Jun 23 - The senior public prosecutor at the the National Authority for Investigation and Prosecution of Economic and Environmental Crime observes that 'The company may face a tax claim of as much as 5 billion kroner, including interest ...“I find it hard to believe that the world’s biggest rig company will run away from its bill, should it be convicted. If they choose to hide behind tax havens, then no one will dare to have anything to do with them again.” '

Slovenia: Deputies Support Public List of Firms Dealing with Tax Havens Slovenian Press Agency
Jun 22 - 'The deputies on Wednesday deemed changes to the act on prevention of money laundering and the funding of terrorism suitable for further debate. The motion proposed by the opposition People's Party (SLS) would introduce a public list of firms performing transactions with countries that are on the IMF list of offshore tax havens.'

UK: Putting the global into Labour’s policy review Progressonline

Jun - Regarding the "beyond aid' agenda, Harriet Harman - Shadow Secretary of State for International Development and Shadow Deputy Prime Minister - 'has rightly prioritised the problem of tax avoidance as one of her key policy areas.'

Bangladesh: National Board of Revenue (NBR) opens wings to detect tax evasion The Financial Express

Jun 21 - Authorities in Bangladesh are engaged in 'intensified efforts to find out tax-evaders. According to a recent study of the Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB), the country lost 3.0 per cent of the GDP on account of tax evasion in 2009-2010, which is again 34 per cent of the total tax collected in the year.'

Lower-Tax Shores Draw U.S. Firms Wall Street Journal
Jun 24 - Reporting on the growing trend for incorporating in tax havens. 'U.S. IPOs by companies incorporated in two tax havens—the Cayman Islands and Bermuda—have grown steadily in recent years, according to research firm Dealogic, from about 1% of the total a decade ago to 26% in 2010 and more than 21% so far this year'.

Dollar Repatriation and Inflation GoldSeek

Jun 22 - We've been linking on the repatriation issue, and pointing out that such a tax holiday will reward wealthy investors and executives rather than job seekers. This article observes: 'Additionally, the repatriation of capital to American soil could bring inflation.'

See also:

CBPP Opposes Repatriation Tax Holiday TaxProf
Jun 24 - The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities yesterday released Tax Holiday for Overseas Corporate Profits Would Increase Deficits, Fail to Boost the Economy, and Ultimately Shift More Investment and Jobs Overseas: '

And see;
Tax Repatriation: You Can't Turn This Into a Good Idea Huffington Post
Jun 23 - 'No more deferral of taxes on overseas profits. Boom!... problem solved.'


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Tax Havens and G20 - Cannes Conference

An announcement from our friends at CCFD - Terre Solidaire:

The CCFD-Terre Solidaire has the pleasure to invite you to a conference on tax havens on the 1st of July, at the Palais Bourbon.

Tax Havens and G20 : Cannes, an event not to be missed !

April 2009 : The G20 in London calls for tax haven transparency

July 2011 : a couple of months before the Cannes Summit, it’s the moment of truth.

So far, nothing has changed neither for developing countries nor for multinational companies.

From French regions to the American Senate, some actors are taking measures in favour of more transparency.

Will G20 countries take up the challenge to fight against tax avoidance ?

We are looking forward to welcoming you there.

Don't hesitate to give this invitation around !

Registration is required : +33 (0)1 44 82 81 17 )

(The conference will be translated into French and English)


Bono Pay Up Weekend is upon us

U2 heads the line up at Glastonbury festival this weekend and the stage is set for Art Uncut's events targeting their tax dodging.

Away from Glastonbury, at the Bull and Gate in Kentish Town, London, Art Uncut in conjunction with Big Society Entertainments is organising an evening of comedy and debate in support of the Fortnum & Mason 145. The comedians will be supported by a line up including TJNs very own stand-up economist, John Christensen, Lord Maurice "Blue Labour" Glasman, plus speakers from Christian Aid and Art Uncut.


Links Jun 23

Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) probes multinationals over tax evasion Business Daily
Jun - The KRA is'investigating 20 multinational companies for transfer pricing, and has 'intensified audits to combat the malpractice, which involves drastically reducing payable tax so as to transfer profits to associated companies in tax havens overseas. ... The revenue collector intends to triple the size of its audit staff in the next few years to handle the rising abuse of transfer pricing'

Kenya's tax authority warns defaulting MPs Africa Review

Jun 22 - 'The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) has warned that it will move to auction the assets of legislators if Parliament fails to remit their taxes. The tax body said it fully expects Parliament to comply and pay the taxes of MPs backdated to September 2010.'

Angola: Clamp down on tax evasion increases government revenue
Jun - The National Commissioner of Police has stated 'Actions of inspection, control and repression to tax evasion have been enabling the increase of incomes of the Angolan state, as well as reduction of tax evasion and of opportunities for committing economic crimes'. Hat tip Paul Groenewegen.

Ill-gotten gains: the public prosecutor in Paris in search of evidence
(In French)
Jun 17 - The Paris court has raided the offices of lawyers and notaries of African leaders Denis Sassou Nguesso of Congo-Brazaville, Equatorial Guinea's Teodoro Obiang Nguema, and the late President Omar Bongo of Gabon and their relatives, who are accused of having illegally acquired the wealth that they hold in France.

India: Not all black and white Hindustan Times

Jun 21 - On the crackdown by the Indian authorities on tax evasion and 'round tripping'. Also note - 'The costs are high for Mauritius if it chooses to tell. Western hedge funds that use the island as a launch-pad into the Indian equity market do so to escape scrutiny in their respective countries.'

Small Businesses Bash 'Tax Holiday' Plan For Corporate Titans Huff Post Business
Jun 22 - On: 'the current quarrel over a corporate tax "repatriation" holiday. The plan is widely viewed by economists, tax experts and small business owners as a useless government giveaway to a handful of multinational corporate behemoths. But several companies and a Wall Street friendly think tank are now touting the idea as a new "stimulus" to create jobs.'

See also:
Chuck Schumer's Amazing Double-Somersault on the Repatriation Holiday Citizens for Tax Justice
Jun 22 - The 'American Jobs Creation Act, a bill full of so many tax breaks for special interests that one observer called it a “bacchanalia of Caligulan proportions.” The bill, which many Democrats and Republicans supported, prompted one business lobbyist to confess to a reporter that the policy process had “risen to a new level of sleaze.” '

New York closes loophole on tax evasion Reuters
Jun 22 - New Yorkers who evade income taxes will now have to face both federal and state prosecutors, now that the legislature has shut the so-called "Helmsley" loophole. New York's income taxes are a major source of its revenue, and state and federal prosecutors have been investigating whether New Yorkers are among the U.S. citizens who hid funds in Swiss bank accounts.

The Bankers Who Cried Wolf: Wall Street's History Of Hyperbole About Regulation Huff Post Business
Jun 21 - "The standard Wall Street argument is that any type of regulation will cost them money and threaten their existence, and that has not happened" ... "Despite the hyperbole, most regulation has aided the profitability of the financial sector in the long run".

British banks - assisting criminal behaviour in pursuit of profit Tax Research UK

Jun 23 - On the report we blogged yesterday by the UK's Financial Services Authority (FSA) - Richard Murphy asks pertinent questions of the UK's Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer.

See also:

British banks ignore money-laundering rules, says FSA The Guardian
Jun 22 : 'Scathing report by regulator says top financial institutions seem ready to ignore allegations of criminality in pursuit of lucrative clients.


UN versus OECD: Not a football match

The International Tax Review reports on an intriguing exchange in Stockholm between the OECD's Jeffrey Owens and the UN Tax Committee's Michael Lennard, both sides apparently stressing their relationship is one of cooperation rather than competition, with one discussant noting: “While there is a lot of debate about what will be the new world order, the OECD versus the UN is not a football match."

Shame really. A football match would be much more fun than endless discussions about how to make the OECD's transfer pricing guidelines fit for purpose, but the reason for the public proclamations lies with recent criticisms coming from TJN and others about the extent to which OECD countries are trying to impose their (largely ineffective) standards on the rest of the world. And their numerically dominant position on the UN Tax Committee does little to allay our fears.

Anyway, while the OECD and UN deliberate on their ideal team - presumably with OECD players dominating the UN front line and mid-field, and omnipresent Jeffrey Owens placed as striker on both sides - (P.S. TJN will happily provide the referee and linesmen), click the link below to watch one of the most intriguing matches of all time.

STOP PRESS Since writing this blog, a colleague in the US sent the following:

Uh, let me see if I got this right. These guys fly all the way to Sweden at taxpayer expense to a biz-sponsored conference with no NGOs present. The retiring OECD tax boss, who has never been known for dodging headlines, denounces unnamed NGOs not present at this obscure conference for headline seeking, and warns that they are somehow threatening the UN-OECD relationship. He is supported by some City tax-busting QC, a football expert. The UN representative, whose own TP subcommittee is dominated by OECD countries, and also knows from football, agrees that it is not a football match. History having been made, they all fly home.

Actually, gents, it IS a football match. OECD:"own goal," first period.

And now for something completely different:

[PPS Thanks to the person who called me last night to point out that Karl Marx was right about the goal being offside!!!]


Belgian move towards tax transparency causing a ripple of panic

Belgium is preparing to share tax information on non-resident account holders with their countries of residence, doubtlessly raising the blood pressures of those infamous French and German dentists who allegedly motor across the border to deposit their tax evading Euros in Bruges, Brussels and Ghent. Up to a quarter of a million account holders are involved according to media reports.

Although a long-standing member of the European Union (and the preceding European Economic Community), Belgium aligned with Austria and Luxembourg in not signing up to automatic information exchange when this became the EU standard in 2005. This largely explains why we ranked Belgium ninth overall in the 2009 Financial Secrecy Index. Despite having a far smaller share of the market for offshore financial services than (say) Luxembourg, the opacity score we awarded Belgium reflected its lack of commitment to automatic information exchange. We confidently expect the Belgian opacity score will drop significantly as a result of this very positive step towards enhanced international cooperation.

And as for the fabled dentists, well perhaps they'll quit their tax evading habits, exchange the Mercs for a bicycle, and enjoy being good citizens without the fat cat trappings. We can live in hope.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

FSA reveals British banks are failing to turn down corrupt funds

The following statement has just been issued by our friends at Global Witness:

Global Witness welcomes today’s recognition by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) that the majority of Britain’s banks are failing to do enough to identify corrupt money from abroad and that it is “likely that some banks are handling the proceeds of corruption.”

The campaigning NGO has repeatedly called for a new approach by the regulator to identify and punish those banks that fail in their requirements to identify their customers and their source of funds, particularly customers who are senior officials of other countries, known in the industry as ‘politically exposed persons’ (PEPs).

“Many of the failings identified by the FSA are the same as those it found ten years ago after £1 billion stolen from Nigeria by Sani Abacha came through London banks. This reflects terribly on the FSA's softly-softly approach over the last decade, and makes it very clear why Egypt is now seeking the return of corrupt Mubarak funds from the UK. Neither dictatorship nor corruption can occur without banks willing to help,” said Anthea Lawson, head of the banks campaign at Global Witness.

“For too long Britain’s banks have been happy to accept money stolen from developing countries by corrupt rulers and their families. This review shows we need a radical new approach from the banks, and a strong commitment from the FSA to ongoing monitoring and punishment which acts as a proper deterrent; they cannot wait another ten years then do a review of what’s gone wrong,” said Lawson.

Last year Global Witness revealed that HSBC, Barclays, Natwest, RBS and UBS had accepted millions of pounds for two Nigerian state governors who had been accepting bribes. British aid to Nigeria is set to double by 2014; Global Witness believes the impact of this UK taxpayers’ money is undermined if British banks are facilitating corruption and the loss of Nigeria’s oil income.

Most recently, Barclays was revealed to have allowed Teodorin Obiang, son of the president of Equatorial Guinea, to purchase 18 million Euros of art auctioned from the estate of the late Yves St Laurent, through an Obiang-controlled company account held with the bank. Teodorin earns a salary of about $6,000 a month as a minister in his father’s government yet is renowned for his luxurious tastes, including a $35m mansion in California.

The FSA’ findings include:

- Three quarters of banks reviewed are not doing enough to establish the legitimacy of their customers’ source of wealth - some in situations where they had adverse information about their customer’s integrity;

- At least two banks have been referred to enforcement with “serious weaknesses” in their systems and controls for managing high-risk customers, including PEPs;

- A third of banks are failing to do enough to identify PEPs;

- Half of banks are not reviewing their high risk and PEP relationships regularly;

- A third of banks dismissed serious allegations about their customers without adequate review;

- A third of banks do not keep adequate records of their high-risk and PEP customers, impeding their ability to assess money laundering risk;

- Some banks had inadequate safeguards to mitigate conflicts of interest on the part of their relationship managers;

- Many relationship managers are rewarded primarily on the basis of profit and new business, regardless of their performance on anti-money laundering issues;

- There is inadequate handling of the risks presented by correspondent banking relationships.

NOTES: In order to ensure that the money held is clean, banks and regulators must apply three key principles:

1) If a bank cannot get its senior politician customers to explain their wealth, then it should turn down the money. Senior officials should be able to explain how their assets were earned legitimately, especially if there is a significant difference between their official salary and their actual wealth. If they cannot explain there should be a presumption that that their funds are the proceeds of corruption. This concept of “illicit enrichment” is already recognised in international treaties such as the United Nations and the Inter American conventions against corruption.

2) Banks and other investment managers should disclose full details of state assets that they manage. In a dictatorship where one individual, or a small cabal, exercises almost complete power over the state, there is a very thin dividing line between state and personal investments. For example, it appears that Gaddafi has significant personal control over the state funds invested in the Libyan Investment Authority, which Global Witness recently revealed to be managed by major international banks.

3) Such measures should be accompanied by national registries that list the ultimate owner or controller of companies and trusts. Corrupt politicians hide their identity, and therefore their assets, behind complex webs of front companies and legal structures. This can make it very difficult for banks, or law enforcement, to find out who actually controls assets.


Links Jun 22

Belgium will lift bank secrecy on 250 000 accounts held by non-residents Le Monde (In French)
Jun 15 - The Belgian tax administration is to provide automatic exchange of information on non-residents' bank accounts to tax authorities within Europe. Belgium has repeatedly called on Luxembourg and Switzerland to follow its example - both countries still refuse.

Zambia to audit more mining firms Mining Weekly

Jun 15 - Zambia will audit more mining companies after previous audits turned up as much as $200 million in unpaid taxes from the key economic sector.

Financial Stability Board: under the spotlight
GFS News
Jun 17 - The Financial Stability Board is charged with maintaining the openness and transparency of the financial sector, yet its own internal processes are shrouded in secrecy. hat tip: anon.

How to tackle tax havens DailyFinance
Jun 17 - The article rounds off a series on tax havens and how they distort the global economy, looking at what can be done to change the system, and quotes Nick Shaxson's Treasure Islands: "The final and most important thing is to change the culture. When pundits, journalists and politicians fawn over people who get rich abusing the system – getting around tax and regulation and forcing everyone to shoulder the associated risks and taxes – then we have lost our way." See also the related stories:

How tax havens poisoned the economy

Report criticises reach of City finance

Banks top list of tax haven users

US business groups oppose tax break

Green MP tables bill on tax evasion

US Amendment Would Grandfather In Pending Tax Strategy Patents Automated Trader

Jun 20 - 'An amendment filed by Rep. Jared Polis (D., Colo.) could double the number of patents issued for tax strategies--even if Congress passes a bill that would stop the practice entirely ... The amendment "provides a loophole in meaningful legislation that finally has a chance of passing," said Nicole Tichon, executive director of Tax Justice Network USA.'

Companies Push for Tax Break on Foreign Cash New York Times

Jun - From the NY Times series, 'But Nobody Pays That - Billions Offshore' : 'Some of the nation’s largest corporations have amassed vast profits outside the country and are pressing Congress and the Obama administration for a tax break to bring the money home. Apple has $12 billion waiting offshore, Google has $17 billion and Microsoft, $29 billion.' Hat tip - Chuck Collins.

See also:
Inside the Accountants' Playbook New York Times

Jun 20 19 - Video showing background on four strategies that American companies use to reduce their taxes.

FT: over 90 UK PFI projects moved offshore Treasure Islands
Jun 20 - Following Nick Shaxson's blogging on the UK’s Private Finance Initiative, the Financial Times has weighed in with some useful updates and details - "More than 90 private finance initiative projects have been moved into offshore tax havens, according to a report by the European Services Strategy Unit."

So now we know what the Crown Dependencies are for Tax Research UK
Jun 21 - Richard Murphy comments on an article in the Scotsman newspaper : 'So now we know: apparently it is UK policy that the Crown Dependencies provide a ‘different tax environment’. Official confirmation of all Nick Shaxson has argued in Treasure Islands if ever I heard it.'

SIngapore 'set to be top private banking centre' The Straits Times
Jun 21 - 'Singapore will become the world's top wealth management centre by 2013, thanks to growth in emerging markets, and the decline of Switzerland and London in the wake of tougher regulations. The findings came from a PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) report out yesterday that pointed to the changing balance of power in financial markets.' Hat tip Offshore Watch.

Switzerland: Party funding to remain shrouded in mystery swissinfo

Jun 21 - There have been calls for 'a more transparent funding system for Switzerland’s political parties, but virtually to no avail.' Much funding of political parties, in various jurisdictions, involves influence in issues of tax justice.


Uncut calls for action to support public services

Governments throughout Europe continue to give tax handouts to bankers and big business while cutting back on public services for old people, sick people, children and basically anyone who failed to contribute to political party funding in the past few years.

We have clear choices ahead of us: Resist the tax handouts. Resist the tax haven economy. Support our welfare services. Protect democracy from the deep pockets of the banks, hedge funds, and other special interests.

UK Uncut has released a short and fun video calling for activists to take to the streets in support of industrial actions to protect vital public services -


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The campaign to turn Scotland into a tax haven

We've remarked on Scotland's tax haven possibilities before, but now it seems that the propaganda war may be beginning in earnest. Thanks to Tax Research, our attention has been drawn to an article in the influentla Scotsman newspaper. The introductory paragraph reads:
Britain's three Crown Dependencies – Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man – have a unique constitutional status in the world – not sovereign, but virtually independent all the same. Is it on these islands that Scotland's own future may be written?
The article continues, ominously:
Their example is now coming under scrutiny, as the new SNP Government in Edinburgh presses ahead with its plans for an independence referendum – which has turned growing attention on to what the Nationalists these days mean by independence. A study by Professor James Mitchell of Strathclyde University proposed that the SNP is now proposing a form of "looser union" with the UK, where it would attain sovereignty but remain part of a "confederation" of British nations. Such a nation would control matters in its own borders, but would buy in services from the rest of the UK where it was deemed appropriate.
Tax haven Scotland. The battle lines are being drawn. The article quotes a Ben Thomson, of a group calling itself the Campaign for Fiscal Responsibility (CFFR, which Murphy calls "a right wing front for tax cuts",) arguing that the UK should encourage the kind of pernicious tax competition that the Crown Dependencies are engaged in:
"The game is not about dividing up the cake. It is about how do you attract a bigger cake within the UK by attracting businesses to come here. We in a global game competing against Geneva, Luxembourg or Dublin. If these businesses didn't set up in the Channel Islands, they would end up in the Cayman Islands or Bermuda." Thomson says that, given the powers of the Dependencies, a fiscally independent Scotland could set taxes in its own areas of strength – such as oil and gas, or whisky – to suit its own local circumstances.
If that isn't the launch of a campaign to turn Scotland into a tax haven - then we don't know what is. We note that the CFFR are backed by - among many others - Martin Gilbert of Aberdeen Asset Management, someone we've written about before. Read Treasure Islands - pp197-201 in the UK edition - for a wholesale demolition of the 'tax competition is good' myth. Or click here. And note research, such as that by Professor Michael Keating of Aberdeen University, looking at how the kind of corporation tax cut being discussed might work for Scotland:

"In Scotland, such a cut would provide a windfall benefit for existing businesses without attracting much more. The argument that it would pay for itself depends on the implausible assumption that business activity would more or less double in a very short period. . . .there would be a sharp fall in revenue, which I calculated (before the recession) at some four per cent of Scottish Government revenue. Such a loss is difficult to reconcile with the SNP's vision of a social democratic Scotland. . . it implies a cutback in state provision more radical than that currently being pushed through by the coalition at Westminster"

Thankfully, the Scotsman article also quotes saner voices about the possibility of Scotland becoming a tax haven.
"David Mundell, Scotland Office Minister, said that any comparison between Scotland and the Dependencies was "completely misplaced". He said: "They are on a completely different scale to Scotland and their function is also completely different, that of providing a different tax environment. Scotland is an industrial country with an entirely different profile to the Channel Islands."
It's nice to see that clarity on the 'function' of the Crown Dependencies. A last word to Tax Research:
In case they haven’t noticed, all the Crown Dependencies are in deep financial trouble, unable to balance their books and are in possession of tax susyems ruled illegal by the European Union. But what the heck, why let something like that get in the way of the tax competition mantra?
Oh, and there's this new shocker, too.


Monday, June 20, 2011

Bernie Ecclestone wants Texas teachers to pay for his foibles

A column by David Cay Johnston in Tax Notes is well worth reading:
"Bernard Ecclestone, the British billionaire who has monopoly control of grand prix racing licenses, wants $25 million a year to allow a race in Austin — a cool quarter billion if the races continue for a decade.

You can get an idea of Eccelstone’s riches, held mostly in tax havens, from the third home just acquired by his 22-year-old daughter Petra (pictured). She just bought the 57,000-square-foot home of the late television mogul Aaron Spelling, according to The Wall Street Journal. It was listed for $150 million. Petra also owns a $91 million London residence.

So Texas has oodles of money to pay as a fee for a car race, but is so broke it must fire thousands of school teachers? This is sound government policy?"
There's the usual claptrap from Austin about how such subsidies would bring jobs and economic development to the region - claptrap that Johnston demolishes comprehensively.

Ecclestone's contempt for democracy is quite explicit, it seems. You can see this from some comments he made not so long ago, which caused outrage at the time.
"(Hitler) brought a country that was bankrupt into a country that was very strong and that was really demonstrating what someone could do if they had the power and didn't have to keep back and referring every five minutes," said Ecclestone.

"The trouble with politicians and democracy is they all the time have to compromise, they can't do what they want to do because there is somebody in opposition. It certainly takes a lot longer to do something.

I regret that it didn't come out like that, upsetting people is the last thing I wanted to do, obviously. . . . Mr Ecclestone, 78, said he was being positive only about Hitler's leadership of Nazi Germany between 1932 and 1938, adding: "After that the guy was obviously a lunatic."
Right. Now here's the contempt for lesser mortals, yet again:
The World Jewish Congress also said that he should resign.

But Mr Ecclestone was dismissive of the call: "I think the people who are saying that (I should resign) haven't got the power to say these things."
What Ecclestone has is something that Fifa and the Olympics share - they control a monopolistic 'one-and-only' venture (Formula One; the World Cup; the Olympics) that creates possibility of what economists call rents - 'the income of men who love to reap where they did not sow.' You can tax rents up to 99 percent and capitalists will still pursue the activity - since a 99 percent tax on free money is still money, isn't it?

Free money of this kind, as Fifa has recently demonstrated, generates not only corruption, but contempt for society, and a sense of impunity - living above the law and democracy and so on.

What is so disappointing is - something we've said several times before - that these monopolistic, rent-earning organisations all seem to do is to gravitate to tax havens - even though pretty much every sane economist in the world agrees that the thing to do with monopolies is to tax their 'rents' at very high rates. What does Formula One do with its money? Guess what:
"The rest goes to a company called Delta Topco and to its subsidiaries (see graphic), which handle the organization and marketing of Formula One. The owners of Delta Topco -- financial investor CVC Capital Partners, banks and Ecclestone and his family -- are the real beneficiaries from the global racing circus. The 500 million TV viewers in Japan, China, South America, Europe and the Middle East are almost completely in the dark about the large deals being made, which are often handled using tax havens.
And of course there's the classic abusive transfer pricing game involved, courtesy of one of our favourite tax havens:
The money is often funneled through companies headquartered on the Channel island of Jersey, a place of great discretion and low taxes. According to the study, a number of companies in the Formula One empire that are based in England have taken out large loans at 15 percent interest from the subsidiaries in Jersey. As a result, the companies in Jersey post high earnings, which are only subject to the Channel island’s low tax rates. In return, profits are reduced for the companies registered in Great Britain, which pay higher taxes.
Offshore. It's infected everything. It's everywhere.


Letter from Helsinki - Finland gets serious

We are delighted to see this report from Matti Ylönen in Finland:

Work for tax justice has been bearing fruit in Finland. The government programme of the new majority coalition government states that "Finland will be in the frontline in ending international tax evasion" and will "act to shut down tax havens". Specifically, Finland will:
  • support the use of Country-by-Country financial statements for transnational corporations
  • support increasing use of automatic and multilateral exchange of information in international tax information exchange (while continuing signing bilateral tax treaties with the tax havens)
  • explore possibilities to replace the OECD's current list of tax havens with a new list with stricter conditions
  • hasten the introduction of an international financial transaction tax with as wide geographical scope as possible. Global tax should be aimed at, but the tax could, at the first stage, be adopted also in the EU level only
Government programmes tend to be highly binding documents in the Finnish political culture and usually governments serve full four years term, so this opens up very interesting prospects - even if some national financial secrecy concerns remain.


Media job at Task Force on Financial Integrity

GuardianJobs is carrying the following advertisement:


The Task Force on Financial Integrity and Economic Development is looking for an experienced journalist in a fast-paced, exciting field which is now attracting major international media attention worldwide. The Task Force is a consortium of governments and research and advocacy organisations seeking greater transparency in the global financial system.

The journalist will be expected to work closely with experts who are working to promote financial transparency and accountability for the benefit of developing countries.

The journalist will consult with experts to prepare materials, and will connect journalists with experts. This position will be on a consultancy basis, based in the UK, ideally in London or with easy access to London

A counterpart journalist will be based in Washington DC, and close liaison will be important. The post holder will be supported by a supervisory group.

This initiative is supported by the Tax Justice Network and the Consultant will work closely with the director of its International Secretariat and other team members, as well as other members of Task Force member organisations.

Main responsibilities

Turn Task Force materials into lively, readable copy for journalists and for public audiences
Write and place timely op-eds and blogs relating to current news items
Identify and cultivate media contacts on Task Force issues
Inform journalists about illicit financial flows, bank secrecy, tax evasion and corruption, and help them with story ideas
Coordinate closely with task force members

Knowledge required

Excellent general knowledge of target media markets
Significant contacts in print, broadcast and online media
Working knowledge of new media
Some familiarity with (and high enthusiasm to learn about) illicit financial flows, tax evasion, corruption, bank secrecy and related issues

Skills/ Personal Qualities

Strong news sense
Ability to write clear and accurate copy to deadline
Ability to respond and work well under pressure and to prioritise workload and to multi-task
Proven team player with a ‘can-do’ approach
Strong networking and interpersonal skills
Ability to work without close supervision and take the initiative

Other requirements

Extensive experience working as a journalist
Experience of pitching stories to journalists and editors across a range of media
Fluency in English is essential; French, German, Portuguese and/or Spanish would be a plus

If interested, please email a cover letter, résumé and list of published work. Applications should be submitted by 1 July, 2011 to liz(at)


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Links Jun 20

'Transparency' hides Zambia's lost billions Al Jazeera
Jun 18 - Khadija Sharife reports on
mining corporations' tax avoidance schemes costing African nations billions of dollars each year. 'African nations such as Zambia are often seen as grossly corrupt. Yet it is corporate tax "avoidance" on the part of mining companies that costs the nation hundreds of millions annually, while lining the pockets of middle-men in countries such as Switzerland.'

Africa: SABMiller Under Scrutiny The Wall Street Journal
Jun - Following ActionAid's report on SABMIller avoiding its tax liability in Zambia, Tanzania, Ghana and South Africa, the 31-member African Tax Administration Forum has invited those four countries, plus Mauritius, to discuss SABMiller's tax payments - the latest sign that authorities on the continent are bolstering efforts to scrutinize outflows.

From African Uranium to Caribbean Tax Havens L'Humanité.fr (In French)
Jun 17 - A holding company of the French nuclear giant Areva is registered in the British Virgin Islands, (BVI). - and has subsidiaries in Namibia, Central African Republic, Senegal and South Africa. BVI was elevated from the OECD gray list to the white list in 2009, however it ranks 16th on the Financial Secrecy Index.

Panama wants to get off the gray list Le Nouvel Observateur (In French)
Jun 17 - Panama and France are to sign a tax information exchange agreement - the 12th entered into by Panama - which will get them off the OECD gray list and onto the white list. Rampant fig-leafism. See our briefing paper onTax Information Exchange Agreements (TIEAs), and see here.

Promoting tax culture in Pakistan Pakistan Observer

Jun 19 - 'Finance Minister Hafeez Sheikh is a strong proponent of taxing all classes and especially privileged ones but regrettably these classes have powerful representation in assemblies and decision-making circles and have thwarted proposals aimed at taxing their fatty incomes.'

U.S.: The Big Fake on Repatriation Huffington Post
Jun 17 - Nicole Tichon of TJN USA reports on how 'multinational corporations are again swarming the Hill, trying to give Democrats and Republicans a reason to give tax amnesty in the form of a highly discounted tax rate of just over 5 percent to bring money back from offshore locations.'

France Investigating Money Laundering Linked To Ben Ali, Mubarak Wall Street Journal

Jun 17 - We linked to this story as reported in French in
SlateAfrique . Public prosecutors in Paris are investigating suspected organized money-laundering linked to Tunisia’s ousted president, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, and Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak.

More Asset Searches Lead to 'Front Men' The Wall Street Journal

Jun 8 - A recent spate of legal cases offers a preview of how anticorruption officials could pursue ill-gotten assets of toppled leaders in places like Egypt and Tunisia: Increasingly, prosecutors are going after not only corrupt politicians, but the lawyers and other professionals who may have helped them move cash.

Lawyers and Accountants Once Put Integrity First New York Times

Jun 18 - ' Lawyers and accountants who were once the proud pillars of our financial system have become the happy architects of its circumvention. Nowhere is this more the case than in the world of tax law.'

India: `Impossible to get info on black money stashed overseas' The Hindu Business Line

Jun 18 - 'Mr Sunil Mitra, Union Finance Secretary, has said that all the upcoming agreements with about 87 countries could get the country access to only to information prospectively ... "We have to establish criminality and violation of law (to brand that as black money). This money is in foreign banks which have their own laws of confidentiality,” he said."

Switzerland: Neuchatel voters approve tax plans swissinfo

Jun 19 - The Swiss Canton of Neuchatel will bring in a change in the tax system 'to make the area attractive to new businesses', introducing a a lower standard rate of five per cent. Opponents say Neuchatel is entering a tax race, and other cantons will cut their rates to follow suit. Race to the bottom. See our recent blog Life on Planet Zug - some good questions asked.

See also:

Tax privileges swissinfo
Dec 7, 2010 - This short video explores how 'Nissan, Yahoo, Chiquita – many multinational companies are moving their European headquarters to Switzerland. Here they pay much lower corporate taxes than in other countries. The international holdings have privileges that not even Swiss firms enjoy.'

Ken Bates faces parliamentary probe into Leeds United ownership saga Guardian
Jun 17 - Obfuscation via offshore trusts - in premiership football (soccer) and the fallen but once mighty Leeds United. The club fell both in league rankings and under the weight of £35m in debt. ' "The principle is that it should never be allowed to happen again that football clubs are bought by offshore trusts of which we have no idea who the owners are." ' The story also involves 'millions of pounds of unpaid tax'.