Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Links - July 21

** Also see http://www.taxjustice.net/cms/front_content.php?idcat=127 our searchable archive of past story summaries; and Offshore Watch http://visar.csustan.edu/aaba/jerseypage.html **

Robin Hood Tax Policy
July 17 (Forbes) - This week, House Democrats proposed that how to find most of the funding for their health reform plan. Robert Reich calls this "the most blatant form of Robin Hood economics ever proposed." An outspoken liberal, Reich meant this as praise. Many conservatives are predicting economic disaster. The rich, they say, will go on strike But they said the same thing when Bill Clinton raised the top rate to 39.6% from 31% in 1993, just before the economy took off. Rich people aren't going to suddenly stop working in protest or move to some lower-taxed nation, and the economy isn't going to collapse if they are forced to pay a bit more in taxes.

In heaven or hell
Jul 16 (Economist) - Why do so many Italians want Silvio Berlusconi as their leader? Media control is one reason. Disunity among his opponents is another. But there is a further explanation, many voters see him as soft on tax evasion and so vote for him out of self-interest. Some lie to pollsters because they feel ashamed.

Berlusconi accused over tax amnesty
Jul 15 (FT) - Italy’s centre-right government on Wednesday proposed a tax amnesty aimed at repatriating billions of euros – the bulk believed to be held in Swiss bank accounts – on the most favourable terms yet offered to tax evaders by a European Union member state.

Rebuilding the bias to equity
Jul 15 (Tax Research UK) – Richard Murphy has long argued that there is a powerful case for looking at stamp duty on shares, which raises the costs of capital and reduces investment. But he believes the time has come to look again at the generosity of interest deductibility in our corporate tax system.

Insight: A flawed model is preserved
Jul 14 (FT) - The future shape of banking is becoming clear after the announcement this week of the European Union’s proposed revisions to its rules on bank capital and the Basel Committee’s revisions to the capital framework. Far from delivering a more utility-like banking system, the regulatory response to the financial crisis is designed broadly to preserve the big bank business model, but with tougher capital penalties on banks’ own-account punting and less pro-cyclicality.

State Tax Revenues at Record Low, Rockefeller Institute Finds
Jul 17 (NYT) - The anemic economy decimated state tax collections during the first three months of the year, according to a report released Friday by the Rockefeller Institute of Government. The drop in revenues was the steepest in the 46 years that quarterly data has been available.

Swiss lift 12-year freeze on Mobutu's millions
freeze on nearly seven million dollars in assets the late Zairean dictator Mobutu Sese Seko held in Switzerland, allowing their return to his family. “The foreign ministry deplores this outcome.”

Global Financial Integrity Recommends Strategy for Settlement in Historic UBS Case
July 14 (GFI) - GFI's laid out a plan for a meaningful settlement. A simple monetary fine, even in the range of $2 billion, is inadequate, would mean that the U.S. justice system is for sale, and will do little to weaken banking secrecy in Switzerland. Alternatively, a serious settlement in the case would include the following stipulations:

Embassy Row
July 17 (Washington Times) - Bahamas' Ambassador Cornelius A. Smithis worried that the "twin pillars" of his country's economy - tourism and offshore banking - are cracking under the global economic crisis and U.S. efforts to close foreign tax shelters.

WEALTH ADVISER: Offshore Centers Find New Source Of Cash
Jul 15 (WSJ) - Wealth managers in Switzerland say there has been an extraordinary surge of money from the Middle East and Latin America in the past six months. Members of the Channel Islands financial community make regular trips to Asia and the Middle East to sell their offshore services. They say these efforts are paying off with accounts coming in from these regions.

UBS Should Settle IRS Case, Pay Tax On Accounts - Think-Tank
Jul 15 (WSJ) – UBS AG (UBS) should pay U.S. taxes on 52,000 secret accounts held by American citizens in Switzerland as part of a settlement to a high-profile legal case between the bank and U.S. tax authorities, according to Washington-based Global Financial Integrity.

Offshore Tax Evaders Deserve No Sympathy
Jul 16 (WSJ) – James Stewart has no sympathy for the plight of UBS, nor for the Americans with a Swiss bank account, because “the wealthy need to be reminded that all Americans stand equal before the law.æ

France ponders tougher stance against Monaco
Jul 13 (Wealth Bulletin) - France is fast becoming one of the leading exponents of a crackdown on offshore centres and banking secrecy, as the country’s officials attempt to track down tax dodgers to help pay for a worryingly high government deficit. But it might need to take a tougher line on Monaco if it is to be taken seriously.

Q&A: Tax Havens, Bank Secrecy, and Tricks
Jul 14 (IPS) - At a recent conference in Miami organised by Offshore Alert, a specialised media organisation focused on financial crime, IPS correspondent Lucy Komisar sat down with veteran investigator Bob Roach to discuss the hurdles facing regulators trying to crack down on tax havens, which cost the U.S. alone an estimated 100 billion dollars annually.

McDonald's becomes latest firm to follow the lure of low-tax Switzerland
Jul 14 (Deutsche Welle) - Geneva is to become the European center of the Golden Arches - a move the company says is to coordinate senior management. But an expert critic says tax loopholes are the real reason for what's becoming a Swiss exodus.

Swiss court approves African kleptocracy: Mobutu’s loot to go to his family
Jul 15 (Afrik.com) - Chairman of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Working Group on Bribery in International Business Transactions, Mark Pieth raised an appeal against a Swiss bank to release $6million in assets belonging to former DR Congo’s dictator, Mobutu Sese Sisoko, to DR Congo, but the court rather ruled the looted money to the late dictator’s family.

Comment UBS à Miami rabattait en Suisse les riches latinos
Jul 16 (Le Temps) - Depuis un an, UBS a livré au fisc américain quantité de données sur plus de 700 clients. Les riches latinos qui ouvraient des comptes suisses depuis Miami sont passés entre les gouttes jusqu’ici.

Former Thai PM Fights Bid to Seize $2.2 Billion Assets
Jul 16 (Reuters/NYT) - Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra Thursday challenged a move to seize 76 billion baht (1.3 billion pounds) of his family's assets, which the government claims were gained through abuse of power.

OECD Pressure and Bank Secrecy: The View From Uruguay
July 20 (Tax Analysts) - Alberto Varela and Gianni Gutierrez discuss how, despite OECD pressure, bank secrecy laws cannot be lifted in Uruguay. Uruguay cannot lift bank or tax secrecy laws to give information to foreign tax authorities because to do so would be unconstitutional. Subscription-only.

Swiss minister to meet Clinton ahead of UBS deadline
July 19 (Reuters) - The Swiss foreign minister is due to meet U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on July 31, just days before a deadline to reach a settlement in a damaging U.S. tax case against UBS

Somalia appoints accountancy firm
Jul 8 (BBC) - Somalia's fragile government has hired the world's biggest accountancy firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers, to help ensure international aid is spent correctly. The embattled administration has been asked by donors to demonstrate that funds will be spent properly, and not embezzled by corrupt officials.

Steinbrueck Lauds Liechtenstein, Heals Wounds in Tax Dispute
July 14 (Bloomberg) -- German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck lauded Liechtenstein’s cooperation on tax issues as an “important contribution,” a turnaround in relations between two governments that were locked in a dispute on tax evasion.

Germany's Müntefering Criticises CDU's 'Insane' Tax Plans
Jul 17 (Tax-News.com) - Speaking at a party conference in Weiden, Chairman of Germany’s Social Democratic Party (SPD) Franz Müntefering referred to tax cut promises unveiled recently by the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party, as utter “madness”.According to the SPD leader, such reckless and irresponsible promises to introduce tax reductions amounting to around EUR30bn are insane, as they simply can not be funded.

US House Rep Warns Of Possible Corruption In Govt Bailouts
Jul 15 (WSJ) - The chairman of the House of Representative's investigative panel said Wednesday he was increasingly concerned about potential corruption that occurred during the U.S. government's intervention in the financial system last year.


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