Guest blog: Meesha Nehru, Fair Tax researcher:
Tax is not just about morality: it’s about the battle for our future
Last Thursday Margaret Hodge said that ‘Google is evil’ when it comes to its tax avoidance. By cleverly twisting the company’s own ethically-motivated slogan, the leader of the Public Accounts Committee made it clear that pushing the law to the extreme to avoid contributing millions of pounds worth of tax to governments is not only immoral but also just plain wrong.
Over the last couple of years, the call for a moral crusade against tax avoidance and evasion seems louder with each passing day. In the face of increasing financial pressures, concerned citizens are waking up to the Injustice of how companies and wealthy individuals flagrantly flout the rules, as well as to the impact that such behaviour is having on both developed and developing countries.
A Dutch politician will be taking a tax-free tour of Amsterdam:
SP takes you on TAX FREE TOURAlways wanted to know where those companies are that barely pay taxes? The SP will take you this summer along on Tax Free Tour through Amsterdam. On May 24, June 15 and August 24, SP MP Arnold Merkies will tell you all about the letterbox firms and trust companies where tax is evaded.
Merkies: "Many people have no idea how many companies are involved and where they are. It is high time that we explained that. " Also SP leader Emile Roemer and MEP Dennis de Jong will be present at the Tax Free Tour.You can sign up for the tour now, here.
Hat tip: Sam from Amsterdam
EU wants big companies to reveal national tax bills Reuters
See also: From January 2003 to May 2013 – progress with country-by-country reporting Tax Research UK, and EU on verge of "historic breakthrough" for tax justice Christian Aid, and The good, the bad and the indecisive: EU leaders put tax centre stage at summit Eurodad
HSBC faces court threat as deal on money laundering charges stalls The Guardian
A very important development - a move that could leave HSBC facing a criminal prosecution and the threat that its charter to do business in the US could be revoked.
This time, it's the head of Austria's Raiffeisen bank (not to be confused with Switzerland's Raiffeisen Bank, which is different.) From Bloomberg:
“He [Herbert Stepic] is offering to resign his position as CEO of Raiffeisen Bank International due to personal reasons,” the Vienna-based lender said today in a statement.The CEO had UBS set up an offshore account used to manage properties in Singapore. This story snakes out to the British Virgin Islands (BVI,) Hong Kong, Liechtenstein, and Cyprus, according to a report in Suddeutsche Zeitung.
With more ICIJ-based revelations to come, we expect.
Update: this isn't entirely fresh news after all, it turns out: see expanded story below.
That's the headline from Taxnews.com:
President of the Swiss Private Bankers Association (SPBA) Nicolas Pictet has urged the Federal Council to abandon its "white money" strategy, and to opt instead for an automatic information exchange regime, in particular with the European Union (EU).The Swiss Private Bankers' Association is an incredibly influential organisation inside Switzerland. It should also be noticed in this context that whenever Switzerland has made any kind of retreat on banking secrecy in the face of international pressure, it has almost always been when that pressure has been directed at the banks, rather than at Switzerland itself. So even if we don't usually like the SPBA's message, we do listen to them.
We see, in fact, that Pictet was in fact quoted as saying this a few days ago:
Tax havens play a key role in facilitating tax avoidance, yet so far, few serious measures have been taken to prevent their operation. Fuelling this inertia are not one, but several myths: a book of fairy tales and fantastical claims telling us there’s nothing we can do to tackle the glorified accounting functions that are tax havens.
Let’s take a moment to clear these up.
Sub-myth 1: “There’s no such thing as a tax haven”
In the May 2013 Taxcast: Google and Apple are forced to defend their tax affairs in public, how anti-EU sentiment serves offshore interests; and tax havens and the arms trade: how secrecy kills. The Lord of War makes an appearance.
Produced by @Naomi_Fowler. Also available on iTunes
Professor Ed Kleinbard, a top U.S. tax expert, in the Washington Post:
"It’s exactly like a trade war . . . We’ve never had any progress in multilateral tax agreements. But that’s really what we need right now. … We need a cease-fire.”Quite so. Brazilians talk of "guerra fiscal" - tax war - to describe the pernicious process that is going on within the Brazilian federation. Tax competition is always harmful, both to the world as a whole and to individual participants. As the UK's Independent newspaper reports this morning, citing TJN,
From ActionAid, another important report:
Almost half of all money invested in developing countries is channelled through tax havens, a new ActionAid report revealed today.
The report, How Tax Havens Plunder the Poor, shows how tax havens can often allow companies and investors to avoid tax on the resulting profits and gains and deprive the world’s poorest countries of much-needed tax revenue.
The research also shows that foreign investments into developing countries are more likely to be routed through a tax haven than investments into developed countries.
Mike Lewis, ActionAid’s tax expert who carried out the research, said: “As we have seen with recent cases like Google and Amazon, tax avoidance is a huge issue in developed countries. But evidence shows that poor countries are losing even more from tax avoidance, and are least equipped to protect fragile public revenues.
From Professor Victor Fleischer, tax specialist at University of Colorado Law School, after libertarian U.S. Senator Rand Paul (pictured) expressed hyperventilating outrage that the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations should have the temerity to expose the fact that Apple, Inc. has been shoveling billions of dollars through (among other things) Irish subsidiaries that are not tax resident anywhere:
One Infinite Loop
United States of America
Or maybe Ireland
Dear Mr./Ms. Apple,
I am writing to you at the request of Senator Rand Paul, who suggested that I apologize to you for investigating your offshore tax planning.