Tuesday, September 02, 2008

International News - Sept 2

** Also see our permanent list of past story summaries; Offshore Watch for more stories.

Africa's tax - exciting developments
Sept 1 (TJN) - From the high level ‘Tax Africa. International Conference on Taxation, State Building and Capacity Development’ in Pretoria on 28-29th August. The communiqué and the spirit of the meeting, “amount to more than we thought possible.” Strong consensus around (a) taxation is part of state-building, not just a technical issue; (b) domestic resources are better than aid; and (c) this is an African agenda to be taken forward by Africans (with donor support).

The meaning of competition
Sept 2 (TJN) - "Promoting competition between states is both illogical and an inherently flawed concept: the theory of competition is based on the idea that those participating can fail. We all know that if states fail the consequences for those living within them, around them, and for the world at large are catastrophic.

Sarkozy on tax havens, and more
A speech by French President Nicolas Sarkozy critical of tax havens.

Macavity and the hitch-hiker's guide to nowhere
Aug 28 (TJN) - Most offshore tax evasion schemes employ multi-jurisdictional structures carefully designed to avoid regulation, by ensuring that transactions occur on paper outside the scope of the regulatory authorities of the jurisdictions in question. "This should be regulated elsewhere" really means: "This will be regulated nowhere."

Jersey may split from UK to save low-tax status
Aug 28 (TJN) - The island of Jersey is preparing a referendum on independence amid fears that the Government will accept European Union demands to end its low-tax status.

Tax Portions of Barack Obama's Acceptance Speech
Aug 29 (TaxProf) - Here are the tax portions of Barack Obama's acceptance speech at last night's Democratic Convention. Also see: http://www.gfip.org/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=141

Is History Siding With Obama’s Economic Plan?
Few Americans are aware of two important facts about the post-World War II era. I call the first the Great Partisan Growth Divide: the US economy has grown faster, on average, under Democratic presidents than under Republicans. The second big historical fact is that over the entire 60-year period, income inequality trended substantially upward under Republican presidents but slightly downward under Democrats.

Economy at 60-year low, says Darling. And it will get worse
Aug 30 (Guardian) - Britain is facing "arguably the worst" economic downturn in 60 years which will be "more profound and long-lasting" than people had expected, Alistair Darling, the UK chancellor (finance minister), tells the Guardian today.

Foreign ownership of U.S. companies jumps
Aug 27 (Reuters) - Grant Thornton said the rise in foreign ownership has come despite a high combined U.S. state and federal tax rate of almost 40 percent, the second highest after Japan among the member countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

SEC plans for global accounting standards
Aug 27 (FT) - US companies are set to switch to international accounting rules in a move that will, for the first time, see all the world’s most important listed groups reporting according to the same set of standards. also see: Tax Research comment and FT editorial on the issue.

Osborne’s £7 billion error on company inversions
Richard Murphy examines a letter by George Osborne, Britain’s shadow (opposition) chancellor (finance minister), to the UK chancellor.

Tories vow to shake up inheritance with £2m tax-free bid
Sept 2 (The Scotsman) - Britain’s opposition conservative party plans to overhaul tax rules meaning families would be able to inherit up to £2 million tax-free. Land Registry figures show that fewer than 1,500 properties – or less than 0.15 per cent of the total– were sold for more than £2 million in 2007.

Tax probes to dog Liechtenstein banks for years
Sept 2 (Reuters) - A German-led clampdown on tax dodgers has scared savers away from Liechtenstein's banks and it could take years to win them back, prompting the tiny state to seek to lessen its reliance on the tax haven business.

Many feel tax evasion 'justifiable'
Sept 1 (Canada.com) A limited amount of tax evasion by otherwise honest business owners is justifiable, say people who run companies in the construction and restaurant sectors.

Nauru’s Back On The Game
Every now and then we think a secrecy jurisdiction (tax haven) has gone out of business. Nauru was one we believed had fallen into its own black hole of secrecy. But sometimes they re-emerge, as this web site proves.

Court upholds dismissal of charges in KPMG case
Aug 28 (Reuters) - A U.S. appeals court has upheld the dismissal of criminal charges against 13 former executives at KPMG, saying prosecutors violated the defendants' rights by pressuring the accounting firm not to pay their legal bills.

IMF: Zero Corporate Income Tax in Moldova: Tax Competition and Its Implications for Eastern Europe
This paper tests predictions that (i) there is interdependence in CIT rate setting in Eastern Europe and that (ii) the recent CIT cut in Moldova may intensify tax competition in the region. It finds that . . . Moldovan zero CIT is likely to encourage further cuts in CIT.

WHO to tackle ‘avoidable’ health inequalities
Aug 28 (FT) - The gap in health between rich and poor countries and between rich and poor people within countries is “unfair, unjust and avoidable”, a report commissioned by the World Health Organisation said on Thursday. Social injustice, it said, was “killing people on a grand scale”.

An Embattled Enclave Yearns to Be Free (and Liechtenstein)
Aug 28 (NY Times) For the skeptics who raise doubts about their future as an independent state, South Ossetians have one word: Andorra.

Irish tax move revives fear of exodus
Aug 27 (FT) - Fears of a corporate exodus from Britain were reignited on Wednesday when Henderson Group, one of Europe’s largest investment managers, said it was considering moving its tax base to Ireland.


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