“Where do multinationals pay taxes and how much?” Gaining insight from international tax experts, Backlight director Marije Meerman (‘Quants’ & ‘Money & Speed’), takes a look at tax havens, the people who live there and the routes along which tax is avoided globally.
Those routes go by resounding names like ‘Cayman Special’, ‘Double Irish’, and ‘Dutch Sandwich’. A financial world operates in the shadows surrounded by a high level of secrecy. A place where sizeable capital streams travel the world at the speed of light and avoid paying tax. The Tax Free Tour is an economic thriller mapping the systemic risk for governments and citizens alike. Is this the price we have to pay for globalised capitalism?
At the same time, the free online game “Taxodus” by Femke Herregraven is launched. In the game, the player can select the profile of a multinational and look for the global route to pay as little tax as possible.
research: William de Bruijn
camera: Jean Counet
montage: Bart van den Broek
geluid: Tim van Peppen, Benny Jansen, Joris van Ballegoijen
productie: Marie Schutgens
animaties: Bitcaves & Motoko
President Obama would have proudly proclaimed Warren Buffett a true patriot in his bailing out of the banking system with expensive loans and his ‘realization’ that those earning more than $1 million should be tax-tax-taxed. However, the “Buffett Rule” appears to have one caveat… if you are making over a $1 billion, you’re good to go with tax-avoidance strategies. In one of his career’s most hypocritical moves Warren “tax-me-more” Buffett has decided that putting his money where his mouth is no longer makes sense.. and is funding $3billion of Burger King’s “tax-inversion” takeover of Canada-based Tim Hortons. Somewhere on a golf course, a Presidential Putter is being snapped across a knee…
There is something to be said about every socialist paradise in the history of socialist paradises: they always run out of other people’s money. And when they do, stuff like this happens: the biggest international airport in Venezuela is charging a fee for the right to inhale clean air.
As BBC correctly notes, we’re used to a seemingly endless range of taxes and surcharges when we fly – passenger taxes, departure taxes, fuel levies. But Maiquetia International Airport in Caracas has taken this a step further – passengers flying out now have to pay 127 bolivars tax ($20) for the air they breathe. Continue reading »
I have gone on record that the most dangerous organization is the now French led IMF with Christine Lagarde at the helm, which has presented a concept report that debt cuts for over-indebted states are uncompromising and are to be performed more effectively in the future by defaulting on retirement accounts held in life insurance, mutual funds and other types of pension schemes, or arbitrarily extending debt perpetually so you cannot redeem. Yes you read correctly, The new IMF paper is described in great detail exactly how to now allow the private sector, which has invested in government bonds, to be expropriated to pay for the national debts of the socialist governments.
I have been warning that there is an idea that has been running around behind the curtain that the national debt of the USA could be settled by usurping all pension funds in the country. Here is a remarkable blueprint that throws all previous considerations concerning the purchase of government bonds over the cliff. The IMF working paper from December 2013 states boldly:
“The distinction between external debt and domestic debt can be quite important. Domestic debt issued in domestic currency typically offers a far wider range of partial default options than does foreign currency–denominated external debt. Financial repression has already been mentioned; governments can stuff debt into local pension funds and insurance companies, forcing them through regulation to accept far lower rates of return than they might otherwise demand.”
Already in October 2013, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), suggested the Euro Crisis should be handled by raising taxes. The IMF lobbied for a property tax in Europe that should be imposed where there are no such taxes. The IMF has advocated for a general “debt tax” in the amount of 10 percent for each household in the Eurozone, which also has only modest savings. Continue reading »
It was a little over a year ago, just as the Cyprus deposit confiscation aka “bail in” was taking place, when we asked, rhetorically, if “Spain is preparing for its own deposit levy” when an announcement by Spain’s Finance Minister, Montoro, hinted at the imminent arrival of just that.
Sales taxers are holding hostage the renewal of a rare bipartisan success.
The idea of taxing email is no more popular today than when President Bill Clinton signed the Internet Tax Freedom Act into law. But a dedicated congressional minoritynow wants to allow states and localities to tax email—unless these governments are given new powers to collect sales taxes on e-commerce.
On Nov. 1—three days before Election Day—the Internet Tax Freedom Act is due to expire. In place since 1998 and renewed three times, it wisely prohibits taxes that discriminate against the Internet. State and local governments can’t impose burdens online that don’t exist offline. And multiple jurisdictions can’t tax the same online transaction—a critical consumer protection in a country with more than 9,600 taxing authorities. The law also bans email taxes and new taxes on Internet access services. Continue reading »
David Cameron has come out and argued that taxes will rise unless he can raid bank accounts in the UK. Cameron argues he will “have to put up taxes” unless tax officials are given draconian powers to raid people’s bank accounts if they think they even owe money. Trust me – all politicians share ideas. Obama is already conniving a way to do the same thing – you can bet on that.
There is no elite private conspiracy of some dominating group. That implies some comprehension of what is even possible. I have sat in the room with such people and these conspiracy stories give these people way too much credit for being intelligent. Nobody smart enough to handle the job ever seeks such positions. Governments are run by lawyer-politicians who think they need only decree some law that solves the problem. They understand nothing. Why should people keep money in a bank in the UK after Cameron makes such a statement? He is way too stupid to realize people act in anticipation. Continue reading »
In recent years, America’s technology giants have increased profits to epic levels. So you’d think this good fortune would prove a boon to the fragile American economy.
In theory, a river of tax dollars from America’s cash-rich technology firms ought to contribute towards a significant reduction of the US $17.5 trillion debt mountain.
Only it hasn’t quite worked out that way.
Today, the 1,067 biggest non-financial firms in the United States, according to Moody’s the credit rating agency, have amassed cash and liquid investments totalling $1.48 trillion – a sum equivalent to the entire economy of Spain.
Of this $1.48tn corporate cash mountain, 22% is held by just four companies. Combined; Apple, Microsoft, Google and Cisco Systems retain $331bn in cash, with $255bn held in foreign subsidiaries sheltered from US tax.
But instead of this cash sitting idly in a Bermudan bank vault, new research by the Bureau shows that a substantial amount of the tech giants’ offshore cash is in fact lent to the US government.
‘US taxpayers pay interest to tech giants on their offshore cash held there for tax reduction purposes
If you are like most Americans, paying taxes is one of your pet peeves. The deadline to file your federal taxes is coming up, and this year Americans will spend more than 7 billion hours preparing their taxes and will hand over more than four trillion dollars to federal, state and local governments. Americans will fork over nearly 30 percent of what they earn to pay their income taxes, but that is only a small part of the story. As you will see below, there are dozens of other taxes that Americans pay every year. Of course not everyone pays all of these taxes, but without a doubt we are all being taxed into oblivion. It is like death by a thousand paper cuts. Our politicians have become extremely creative in finding ways to extract money from all of us, and most Americans don’t even realize what is being done to them. By the time it is all said and done, a significant portion of the population ends up paying more than half of what they earn to the government. That is fundamentally wrong, but nothing will be done about it until people start demanding change.
Inspired by Scotland’s hopes for independence and hot on the heels of Crime’a 95% preference for accession to Russia, 89% of the citizens of Venice voted for their own sovereign state in a ‘referendum’ on independence from Italy. As The Daily Mail reports, the proposed ‘Repubblica Veneta’ includes the five million inhabitants of the Veneto region and has been largely driven by the wealthy ‘who are tired of supporting the poor and crime-ridden south’ (Venice pays EUR71bn in taxes and receives only EUR21bn in services and investment). The ballot appointed a committee of ten who immediately declared independence from Italy. Venice may now start withholding taxes from Rome. Wonder why the US, Europe, and Japan have not announced the referendum “illegal” and announced sanctions yet?
In its 2013 annual report to Congress, the Office of the Taxpayer Advocate wrote that the IRS shows “disrespect for the law and a disregard for taxpayer rights.”
Further, the report says that the current system “disproportionately burdens those who [make] honest mistakes,” and that “tax requirements have become so confusing and the compliance burden so great that taxpayers are giving up their U.S. citizenship in record numbers.”
It would appear the IMF’s dirty little fingerprints are all over this latest piece of legislation in Ukraine. The Ukraine Finance Ministry is proposing to take a very-similar-to-Cyprus approach to bailing in its despositors:
*UKRAINE PROPOSES NEW TAX ON DEPOSITS EXCEEDING 100,000 HRYVNIA
*UKRAINE TAX PROPOSAL WOULD INCLUDE 1.5% OF ALL DEPOSITS
In September of 2011, when looking at the insurmountable debt catastrophe that the world finds itself (which has only gotten worse in the past several years) we warned that “the only way to resolve the massive debt load is through a global coordinated debt restructuring (which would, among other things, push all global banks into bankruptcy) which, when all is said and done, will have to be funded by the world’s financial asset holders: the middle-and upper-class, which, if BCS is right, have a ~30% one-time tax on all their assets to look forward to as the great mean reversion finally arrives and the world is set back on a viable path.”
Two years later, the financial asset tax approach, in the form of depositor bail-ins, was tried – successfully (as there was no mass rioting, no revolution, in fact the people were perfectly happy to accept the confiscation of their savings) – in Cyprus, further emboldening the status quo, in this case the IMF, to propose, tongue in cheek, that the time has come for the uber-wealthy to give back some (“it’s only fair”), and to raise income taxes through the roof (which of course would mostly impact the middle class as the bulk of current income for the 1% is in the form of dividend income, ultra-cheap leverage extraction on assets and various forms of carried interest).
And now, a new tax is not only on the horizon but coming fast and furious to allow the insolvent global regime at least one more can kicking: one which will impact current and future homeowners across the world.
California lawmakers want to put a carbon tax on gasoline and other vehicle fuels to curb carbon dioxide emissions and fight global warming. Golden State residents already face some of the highest energy and fuel costs in the country, but carbon tax proponents say the tax would go to help mitigate the effects of global warming on the poor.
The Los Angeles Times reported that Democratic state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg proposed legislation that would slap a 15 cents per gallon tax on fuels sold in the state which would rise to 24 cents per gallon in 2020. The fuel tax is expected to raise $3.6 billion in the first year and would fund public transit projects as well as a new tax credit for families earning less than $75,000 per year.
Steinberg justified his gas tax increaseas aid for the poor, who are most impacted by global warming.
While the propaganda surrounding Europe’s “recovery” has reached deafening levels, what is going on behind the scenes is quite the opposite, and in the latest example that Europe is increasingly formalizing a regime of implicit capital controls, we learn that Italy has just ordered banks to withhold a 20% tax on all inbound wire transfers: a decree which on to of everything will apply retroactively to February 1. As Il Sole reports, “the deductions will be automatic (unless prior request for exclusion), and then it will be up to the taxpayer to prove that the money is not in the nature of compensation “income.” In other words, as of this moment, but really starting two weeks ago, all Italians are money launderers unless proven innocent. Continue reading »
We previously discussed Puerto Rico in these pages in October of last year (see “Puerto Rico’s Debt Crisis – Another Domino Keels Over”). At the time, the public debt crisis looked increasingly worrisome – in fact, it seemed as though Puerto Rico would eventually have to apply for a federal bail-out, and if it failed to get one, it might have to restructure its debt (it actually cannot do that, see further below). Several months have now passed and the situation apparently hasn’t gotten better. Before we continue, allow us to point out though that noted contrarian Jeff Gundlach thinks that Puerto Rico will eventually be rescued – he believes that too many politicians have a vested interest in not letting anything bad happen:
“Municipal bonds are slightly overvalued, he said. Investors who are willing to tolerate volatility will get rewarded for the risk in Puerto Rico’s bonds. Too many politicians rely on votes tied to the stability of Puerto Rico to allow a crisis there, according to Gundlach. “Puerto Rico’s bonds are going to make it to the other side of the valley,” he said.”
U.S. Olympic gold medal winners could owe almost $10,000 to the IRS
As 230 U.S. Olympic athletes gear up to compete in the 2014 Winter Games, the only thing colder than the slopes at Sochi is the fact that any prizes awarded by the U.S. Olympic Commission (USOC) will be taxed by the IRS. Many Americans don’t realize that the U.S. taxes income earned abroad, and as such even the winnings of Olympic athletes are subject to the reach of the IRS.
The USOC awards prizes to U.S. Olympic medal winners: $25,000 for gold, $15,000 for silver, and $10,000 for bronze. Relative to each athlete’s income tax bracket, some top earners such as Shaun White could end up paying over a third (39.6 percent) of their winnings to the IRS.
After it recently suggested a “one-off capital levy” – a one-time tax on private wealth as an exceptional measure to restore debt sustainability across insolvent countries – it has now called for “revenue-maximizing top income tax rates”.
The IMF’s team of monkeys has been working around the clock on this one, figuring that developed nations can increase their overall tax revenue by increasing tax rates.
They’ve singled out the US, suggesting that the US government could maximize its tax revenue by increasing tax brackets to as high as 71%.
Coming from one of the grand wizards of the global financial system, this might be the clearest sign yet that the whole house of cards is dangerously close to being swept away.
Think about it– solvent governments with healthy economies don’t go looking to steal 71% of people’s wealth. They’re raising this point because these governments are desperate. And flat broke.
Mayor Bloomberg’s crusade to micromanage what New Yorkers put in their mouth has so far failed, but that just means the attempt to impose the first “New Normal” nanny state, in which individual calorie consumption is regulated for the greater good by the even greater government, has simply shifted its geographic location. In this case to Mexico, which according to the OECD has surpassed the US as the world’s fattest country and is “notorious for its love of sweets, fried foods and pastries” and where as the WSJ reports, the lower House of Congress passed on Thursday a special tax on junk food that is seen as potentially the broadest of its kind, part of an ambitious Mexican government effort to contain runaway rates of obesity and diabetes.
Mexico’s weight problem in context:
The WSJ reports on what can only be described as Mike Bloomberg’s wet dream:
The House passed the proposed measure to charge a 5% tax on packaged food that contains 275 calories or more per 100 grams, on grounds that such high-calorie items typically contain large amounts of salt and sugar and few essential nutrients.
The tax, which was proposed just this week, is sure to stir controversy among big Mexican and foreign food companies that operate here. It comes on top of another planned levy on sugary soft drinks of 1 peso (8 U.S. cents) per liter that was passed by the same committee, an effort that New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg supported.
With Harry Reid in deep negotiations with crony Republican fraud Mitch McConnell, the American public is surely in the process of getting royally screwed once again. Thus, it seems like an appropriate time to revisit an interview in which Mr. Reid claimed on camera that income taxes are “voluntary.” He must have accidentally described the way members of Congress view taxes, you know kind of like how they view insider trading.
As you watch, try not to get too distracted by Jan Helfeld’s tie. Where can you even buy something like that?!
While Europe, and especially Germany has been understandably “displeased” with having to provide billions in bailout upon bailout funding to Greece every year starting in 2010, all the more so following recent news that Greece has already spent some 75% of its bank bailout cash with no discernible improvement in its economy to show for it, Europes’ taxpayers will unlikely be any more pleased to learn that as of the end of June, a whopping €60 billion in past due taxes (an all time record) was owed by Greek businesses and individuals to the state. This is an amount that is 20% greater than the entire external cash handed over by the Troika to keep Greek banks afloat, and represents nearly 30% of imploding Greek GDP.
Perhaps instead of spending money on trips by its premier and/or think-tanks on how to mutually assure itself another few billion in Troika cash to plug this budget hole or that, Greece should invest a few grand to buy the ink it needs to print tax forms, streamlining its tax collection department (on those days it is isn’t on strike of course) and generate some real IRR.
Why did the U.S. government spend 2.6 million dollars to train Chinese prostitutes to drink responsibly? Why did the U.S. government spend $175,587 “to determine if cocaine makes Japanese quail engage in sexually risky behavior”? Why did the U.S. government spend nearly a million dollars on a new soccer field for detainees being held at Guantanamo Bay? This week when I saw that the IRS was about to pay out 70 million dollars in bonuses to their employees and that the U.S. government was going to be leaving 7 billion dollars worth of military equipment behind in Afghanistan, it caused me to reflect on all of the other crazy ways that the government has been wasting our money in recent years. So I decided to go back through my previous articles and put together a list. I call it “The Waste List”. Even though our politicians insist that there is very little that can still be cut out of the budget, the truth is that the federal budget is absolutely drowning in pork.
The following are 66 crazy ways that the U.S. government is wasting your hard-earned money… Continue reading »
The latest casualty of Europe’s berserk pursuit of tax evaders everywhere: not some Russian oligarch with a $1 billion Cypriot bank account but famous Italian designers, Dolce and Gabbana. WSJ reports that a Milan court has convicted the designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana of tax evasion. The pair were found guilty Wednesday of failing to declare €1 billion ($1.3 billion) in income tax to authorities. The court sentenced them both to one year and eight months in jail. Prosecutors argued that the pair had evaded taxes on income of €416 million each and €200 million through a Luxembourg-based company. The statute of limitations ran out on a charge of misrepresenting income. The designers have denied the charges.
At this point we have all heard of the IRS being caught redhanded with regard to its political targeting, but revelations of corruption and cronyism get worse and worse each day. Yesterday, we found out that the IRS has wasted tens of millions of dollars on hundreds of conferences over the past few years. Conferences where in one instance $17,000 was spent to make paintings of Michael Jordan, Albert Einstein and Bono. Believe it or not, the story gets even better.
We actually don’t even know how much taxpayer money the IRS has blown. Why? They didn’t keep their receipts. You couldn’t make this stuff up.