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Follow the money: inside the world’s tax havens | Business …

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Jun 222015
 

An employee of Jetpack Cayman demonstrates the sport which costs $359 for half an hour. The jetpack is zero gravity, the Cayman are zero taxes, we are in the right place! said Mike Thalasinos, owner of Jetpack Cayman. Photograph: Paolo Woods and Gabriele Galimberti/INSTITUTE

You, dear reader, are a prolific and casual user of offshore tax havens. Im assuming you dont live in a cave or in a remote hunting community. Even if you did, though, youre probably a dabbler: you have little choice.

Many people, and perhaps youre one of them, share a queasy feeling that something has gone badly wrong with the world economy but cant quite put their finger on what the source of the trouble is. Once you understand the nature of offshore tax havens, you should feel closer to pinning down the answers.

Before I explain what they are, and why powerful governments dont just close them down, I want you to take part in a short challenge. See if you can dodge all my bear traps, and declare yourself untainted by tax havens. If you succeed, you win my Hermit of the Year prize.

Related: Inside the secret world of tax havens in pictures

Do you celebrate Christmas? If you do (or even if you do not), did you buy any gifts on Amazon last December? If so, then your goods were quite likely to have been routed through a byzantine world hosted only on paper, you understand by the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, where Amazon has located its European headquarters, slashing its tax bills around the world. In 2011, Amazon revealed that the US Internal Revenue Service was chasing it for $1.5bn in back taxes. More recently, Amazon has said it will stop routing its UK sales through Luxembourg.

Perhaps you shun Amazon. You buy only local products: good for you. But did you search for any gifts online? Did a company called Google play any role in this? In 2011, Google shuffled four-fifths of its profits through a subsidiary in the tax haven of Bermuda, cutting its worldwide tax rate in half and its tax rate in some countries to nearly zero. Google boss Eric Schmidt said in 2012 he was very proud of the structure that we set up its called capitalism.

Youve never used Google? OK, lets say you did all your shopping in the real world: traipsing around your local stores, picking up homemade wooden artefacts that you could weigh in your hands. Wonderful. Youre nearly there.

But not quite. Did you listen to any music on those days? Lets hope iTunes wasnt part of that picture. The tech giant Apple achieved what Senator Carl Levin called, in 2013, the holy grail of tax avoidance, setting up offshore corporations legally incorporated in Ireland and the US but for tax purposes, not resident anywhere. Apple shifted $74bn into one of these subsidiaries between 2009 and 2012, paying 2% in tax on it.

Lets cut this challenge short. Did you at any point consume the services of any of these: AIG, Aviva, Barclays, Black & Decker, British American Tobacco, Burberry, Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, Facebook, FedEx, GlaxoSmithKline, Ikea, HSBC, JP Morgan, Microsoft, Pepsi, Skype, Starbucks, Vodafone or Walt Disney? This is just my quirky personal selection from a list of more than 350 multinationals whose convoluted tax schemes were revealed last November by a whistleblower, working for one accountancy firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), in one European tax haven, Luxembourg.

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Follow the money: inside the world’s tax havens | Business …

Tax Havens

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Jun 032015
 

Offshore tax havens were once associated with very wealthy individuals, which is no longer the case nowadays. More than a decade ago we, a group of lawyers and accountants, started using offshore havens for our own investment purposes. The use of offshore entities in tax havens proved to be a wise and rewarding decision. We started off by providing these same services to friends and family, and then in 2002 we expanded our services, which proved to be a success, because we are still offering very personal services for our friends and families and a large customer base and at low-costs.

We have our sister companies or our lawyers licensed to provide offshore services in all tax havens that we offer, so you can be assured that our services are regulated and in all these districts, strict confidentiality is assured by law.

We sell two several types of tax free or low tax company packages. The International Business Corporation, IBC , the Limited Liability Company, LLC, the UK Limited Liability Partnership and US LLCs.

We offer fast, low cost and professional offshore company incorporation services online in Anguilla, Belize, BVI, Dominica, Gibraltar, Nevis, Panama and Seychelles. We also make sure we have the full range of supplementary services, such as bank accounts in well established banks in Europe and the Caribbean.

We offer offshore trust formation services in Belize and Nevis, two places that, in our opinion, offer best legislation for the trust . The trust is well suited for asset protection and wealth planning.

We offer offshore foundations formation, and registration services offshore foundations which have a similar concept to the trust, but have a legal personality on their own and are based on a mixture of civil and common law concepts. Offshore Private Interest Foundations have gained significant popularity among professionals and private investors and have been successfully utilized for asset protection and inheritance planning. We sell foundations from countries that have rewritten modern and attractive laws for the foundation . The following offshore foundations are offered by our company: Anguilla Foundation, Belize International Foundation, Nevis Multiform Foundation and Panama Private Interest Foundation.

Inour highly litigated world every business person orwealthy individual has toadopt some kind ofasset protection structure. Properly utilized offshore asset protection strategies will protect your wealth and property inthe best possible manner. Weoffer specially designed bulletproof offshore asset protection packages that include the trust orfoundation, anLLCor anIBC.

Our main clients are businessmen and individual investors who wish toreorganize orexpand their businesses inamore profitable way, save ontax payments orsafeguard their investments inasafe haven environment. Wealso provide services tocorporate clients, some ofwhom are multinational well recognized companies.

Please take your time tobrowse through our website. Wehope that you find the answers toyour questions and chooseus tobecome your offshore service provider.

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Tax Havens

FATCA, Tax Havens, American Competitiveness And …

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May 152015
 

While the Bureaucrat Hall of Fame and Moocher Hall of Fame already exist, the Hypocrite Hall of Fame is just a concept. But once it gets set up, Congressman Alan Grayson of Florida will definitely be a charter member. Here are some passages from a column in the Tampa Bay Times.

U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, the outspoken, populist Democrat who thunders against Wall Street fat cats,and used to to joke about Mitt Romneys low tax bill, incorporated a couple hedge funds in the Cayman Islands so investors could avoid taxes. Grayson Fund Ltd. and Grayson Master Fund were incorporated in 2011 in the Cayman Islands That was the same year he wrote in the Huffington Post that the IRS should audit every Fortune 500 company because so many appear to be evading taxes through transfer pricing and offshore tax havens.

But apparently Grayson only wants other people to cough up more money to Washington.

Graysons financial disclosure statements indicate he has between $5-million and $25-million invested in the Grayson fund, and he lists no income from it.

The above sentence frankly doesnt make sense. How can Grayson have millions of dollars of personal wealth and not generate any income? The only plausible answer is that hes just as bad at managing his own money as he is at managing the money of taxpayers (he earned an F from the National Taxpayers Union). In any event, Grayson has plenty of company from fellow leftists who also use tax havens.

Including Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew.

And the Presidents top trade negotiator.

Along with big donors to Obama.

Joined by huge donors to Democrats.

Politicians from Massachusetts also are hypocrites. They endorse higher taxes on everyone else, but use neighboring states to protect themselves from oppressive taxation. John Kerry is a prime example, as are run-of-the-mill hacks from the state legislature.

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FATCA, Tax Havens, American Competitiveness And …

The 10 Biggest Tax Havens in the World – TheRichest

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May 082015
 

In 2009, the governments of the 20 wealthiest countries in the world vowed that they will tighten the regulations that enabled rampant tax evasions in their own nation and territories. The major problem that these countries faced was the high level of secrecy when it comes to withholding the financial assets of clients from the authorities. However, two years later, despite the increase in such regulations, people were still left with a great number of countries to choose from that will allow them to evade their taxes through the use of offshore accounts. This was according to a report made by the Tax Justice Network.

The report, which the Tax Justice Network referred to as the Financial Secrecy Index, assessed 73 different jurisdictions around the world that allowed billions of foreign currency to be stored in offshore accounts. The money that was deposited into these accounts were also left untaxed. The report found that governments worldwide lose approximately $250 billion in revenue every year because of these offshore accounts.

This list is comprised of the 10 biggest tax havens in the world countries that allow the highest level of client financial secrecy, tax evasion, and offshore accounts.

Bahrain, situated near the Persian Gulfs western shores, is a small island-country. The archipelagos largest island is Bahrain Island. While there are plenty of financial institutions offering offshore banking services and bank accounts in the island, its client financial secrecy is the lowest of all the other nations included in this list. Bahrain gets tenth place because it has the lowest level of Financial Secrecy Index value based from the Tax Justice Networks report, which is at 660.3. It also has a Secrecy Score of 78.

Germany makes it easy for people to open offshore bank accounts. However, this has also resulted in the increasing number of individuals opening such accounts so they can evade their taxes. The good news is that the country is trying to control this problem through the implementation of stricter and much more stringent policies. In the report, Germany got a score of 669.8 for its Financial Secrecy Index value, and a Secrecy Score of 57.

Many of the offshore banks in Japan do not subject the deposits made by their clients to interest rate standards and regulations. Fortunately, with the offshore banking center that has been established in Tokyo, the countrys law enforcement authorities would at least be able to monitor and control any developments in these financial institutions.

Jersey is a British Crown Dependency that houses a great number of banks offering offshore accounts to foreign clients. Offshore banking and investments has been a part of the bailiwicks underground economy. In the Tax Justice Network report, Jersey got a Financial Secrecy Index value of 750.1 and a Secrecy Score of 78.

Singapore, an island city-state in Southeast Asia, is considered by many as one of their best choices for opening offshore bank accounts. Almost anyone can open such a bank account without experiencing any hassle. This is one of the major reasons why Singapore was graded with a Financial Secrecy Index value of 1,118 and a Secrecy Score of 71 by the Tax Justice Network.

The states of Nevada and Wyoming are two of the major contributing factors to the countrys increasing problems in terms of tax evasion. In Nevada, there are no capital gains, gift tax, personal income tax, and inheritance tax. In Wyoming, there are no corporate taxes, inventory taxes, unitary taxes, gift taxes, estate taxes, personal income taxes, franchise taxes, and inheritance taxes.

In the Peoples Republic of China, there are two Special Administrative Regions, with Hong Kong being one of them. It is located at the south coast of China and is surrounded by the South China Sea and the Pearl River Delta. Seven million people live in the region. Aside from being a popular tourist hot spot, Hong Kong is also a haven for people who do not want to pay their taxes and deposit large amounts of money in offshore accounts. Here, clients do not have to pay for sales taxes, capital gains, and payroll taxes. They also do not have to worry about personal tax being deducted from their money.

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The 10 Biggest Tax Havens in the World – TheRichest

Colorado eyes ballot question to collect from corporate tax havens

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Apr 142015
 

Voters this November could determine whether corporations doing business in Colorado must report and pay state taxes on profits funneled into offshore tax havens.

Doing that would create a tax windfall of up to $150 million a year, according to a legislative analysis.

Rep. Brittany Petterson, D-Lakewood, and Rep. Mike Foote, D-Lafayette, sponsors of legislation to put the issue on the ballot, want that money earmarked for schools.

“When corporations don’t pay their taxes, kids pay the price,” said Kerrie Dallman, a high school social studies teacher in Jefferson County and president of the Colorado Education Association.

House Bill 1346 is scheduled to be heard before Colorado House of Representatives’ Finance Committee Wednesday afternoon the day income taxes are due.

“There are some corporations that don’t pay their taxes like the rest of us, unfortunately,” Foote said. “But they do get a chance to use our roads and take advantage of educated folks who work in their businesses, courts for dispute resolutions and so forth. They just don’t pay for that.”

The liberal-leaning Colorado Public Interest Research Group released a report Tuesday that indicates each small businesses in Colorado would have to pay an extra $3,165 annually to make up the money lost to corporate tax havens.

More than 300 Colorado small businesses have endorsed the bill asking for a vote.

“This bill will simply ensure that big corporations that should be paying their fair share restore funding to our state and back to our kids in their classrooms,” Petterson said.

Montana and Oregon have passed laws demanding a share of taxes from offshore accounts located in such places as the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, Luxembourg, the Isle of Man and the British Virgin Island.

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Colorado eyes ballot question to collect from corporate tax havens

Twenty-eight English clubs are now owned overseas, increasing the risk of tax avoidance

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Apr 142015
 

Twenty-eight clubs in the English top four divisions are now substantially owned overseas. Photograph: The Guardian

Almost one in three of the 92 Premier and Football League clubs are now substantially owned overseas, including in offshore tax havens, leading to the English football leagues being accused of allowing ownership structures of clubs that could be used for tax avoidance. Research into the ownership of all the clubs by the Guardian and the campaign group the Tax Justice Network has found 28 clubs with a substantial shareholding overseas, including nine of the 20 Premier League clubs.

The Tax Justice Network, which has produced its own report, The Offshore Game, argues the ownership of football club shares via offshore companies means there is huge potential for tax avoidance when the clubs are sold. There is no suggestion any particular club or owner has engaged in tax avoidance; however, owners residing abroad, who hold shares in clubs through companies registered overseas, may not be liable for UK capital gains tax currently 28% for higher rate, wealthier, tax payers on the profits they make when they sell a club. The huge rise in offshore ownership of clubs, which were almost all UK-owned until the wave of overseas buyers moved in around a decade ago, has coincided with steepling increases in television rights and the value of clubs, in the Premier League, and in the Championship for clubs with a prospect of promotion. The ownership of billions of pounds worth of assets through offshore shell companies means there is a huge potential for tax avoidance, said George Turner, author of the Tax Justice Networks report. This should be of great concern to fans around the country, who invest so much time, commitment, emotion and money into their clubs.

Football is not just another business and tax havens have no place in our national game, whatever the reason an owner may have for using them.

While many of the clubs are not owned via shell companies and their locations reflect the nationalities of the businessmen who have bought the clubs including Sheikh Mansour, the Abu Dhabi-based owner of Manchester City, the Malaysian owners of Queens Park Rangers and Venkys, the Indian poultry company which owns Blackburn Rovers other clubs are owned in a variety of countries widely recognised as tax havens. The Cayman Islands feature in the ownership of four clubs: Manchester United, now registered there; Birmingham City, Coventry City and Cheltenham Town.

United was re-registered in the Cayman Islands when the club was floated on the New York stock exchange in 2012, and company documents state the club is now owned by family trusts affiliated with the Glazer family, via companies registered in the US state of Nevada. United and the Glazers have never explained why they employ this structure and did not respond to questions about it from the Guardian.

Related: Why are English clubs owned overseas? Their responses

The American businessman Stan Kroenke holds his 66.8% of Arsenal via a corporation, KSE UK Inc, registered in Delaware, sometimes referred to as the tax haven state of the US, because of the anonymity it affords shareholders and its taxation laws.

The club declined to say whether this means no capital gains tax will be payable if Kroenke sells his stake at a profit but he has always been described as committed to owning Arsenal in the long term and not intending to sell.

Fenway Sports Group and Randy Lerner, the US owners of Liverpool and Aston Villa respectively, declined to say in which US state their ownership companies are registered. Ellis Short, the American owner of Sunderland, still owns the club via the Jersey company, Drumaville, which the previous Irish investors, associates of the former chairman Niall Quinn, used as their ownership vehicle. A Fulham spokesperson said Shahid Khan, the clubs American owner, will shortly fold the British Virgin Islands company previously owned by Mohamed Al Fayed, and the ownership structure will become fully UK-based.

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Twenty-eight English clubs are now owned overseas, increasing the risk of tax avoidance

Almost a quarter of UK firms 'whittle down tax bills' using tax havens and loopholes, says new analysis

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Apr 142015
 

By City & Finance Reporter for the Daily Mail

Published: 17:06 EST, 13 April 2015 | Updated: 17:06 EST, 13 April 2015

Almost a quarter of British firms are paying far lower taxes than the rates demanded by the countries in which they operate, an international study has suggested.

Analysis of more than 1,000 listed companies by MSCI found a tax gap of 56billion from firms using tax havens and loopholes to whittle down their bills.

By comparing the overall tax payments of the companies against the corporation tax rates levied in the countries where they did business, the investment research group was able to determine how many companies were scrimping on payments.

Tax loophole: Almost a quarter of British firms are paying far lower taxes than the rates demanded by the countries in which they operate, an international study has suggested

In the UK, 16 of the 71 included businesses had a tax gap of more than 10 per cent, it said.

MSCI director Linda-Eling Lee said these firms faced the prospect of falling profits if the tax loopholes were closed, as well as reputational risk if they are exposed for minimising tax.

The findings will inflame the debate around the issue of legal but dubious avoidance of tax.

The Government has sought to lead an international crackdown on what it sees as immoral tax dodging by multinational firms.

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Almost a quarter of UK firms 'whittle down tax bills' using tax havens and loopholes, says new analysis

Report: Closing loophole could add $79M in tax revenue

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Apr 142015
 

By Colleen Quinn

State House News Service

BOSTON — Massachusetts could collect an estimated $79 million in additional annual tax revenue if the state tax code was changed to close the “water’s edge loophole” that allows multi-national companies to avoid paying state corporate taxes, according to a new report.

Small businesses wind up shouldering a larger tax burden because of the loophole, according to lawmakers pushing state tax code changes.

“As tax day approaches it is a good time to be reminded of how ordinary taxpayers and specifically small businesses pick up the tab for offshore tax loopholes used by many multi-national corporations,” Deidre Cummings, legislative director for MASSPIRG, said at a State House press conference Tuesday where the group’s report was released.

In 2014, the average small business in Massachusetts would need to pay an additional $4,031 in state and federal taxes to make up for the foregone tax revenue due to offshore tax havens, according to the report, entitled “Picking Up the Tab: Small Businesses Pay the Price of Offshore Tax Havens.”

Rep. Josh Cutler, D-Duxbury, and Sen. Mark Montigny, D-New Bedford, filed bills (H 2477/SD 1699) requiring multi-national corporations to treat profits made in Massachusetts, and deposited overseas, as domestic taxable income. Under a 2008 state law, corporations use a formula using payroll, property and sales to calculate Massachusetts corporate taxes, according to Cummings.

“This is the logical extension of what we did in 2008,” Cutler said.

Oregon and Montana have passed similar laws, and Colorado is contemplating a similar proposal, according to MASSPIRG.

Rep. Leonard Mirra, a Republican from West Newbury and small business owner, said when large profitable corporations hide profits overseas it raises the property taxes of homeowners who are forced to pay more for local services.

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Report: Closing loophole could add $79M in tax revenue

Vatican to share information

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Apr 142015
 

Vatican City signed an information sharing agreement with Italy earlier this month. The move will force the Vatican’s bank, known as the Institute for Works of Religion or IOR, to co-operate with moves by the Italian authorities to crack down on international tax evasion.

The IOR’s purpose is to hold funds for the Catholic Church. For many years it has implored its right to manage Church funds away from the prying gaze of tax investigators. However the bank has been subject to growing international criticism for allowing well connected individuals to hold accounts and exploit the reverence of the Church as a cover for tax evasion and financial crimes.

The sharing agreement will allow access to IOR’s information back to 2009. As the first agreement of its kind for the Vatican it is a significant step towards making its finances more transparent. Italy has recently made similar agreements with several other countries traditionally considered tax havens.

It is anticipated that information sharing under the agreement will be largely one sided as Italy is expected to be the predominant party requiring information. The move is symptomatic both of Pope Francis’ focus on transparency and the pressure exerted by the Italian authorities to prevent Italian banks from doing business with the IOR.

This is part of a global action targeting tax evasion and creating a new global standard led by the OECD. The objective is the elimination of overseas tax havens through transparency and the exchange of information. One mechanism the OECD uses to achieve this is through the use of bilateral tax information exchange agreements. The OECD provides two model agreements for these purposes.

New Zealand currently has twelve such treaties in force and more in negotiation. They enable a full exchange of information on civil and criminal tax matters. This allows Inland Revenue access to more information from our treaty partners which include the Cayman Islands, Gibraltar and the Marshall Islands.

More developments are expected in this area as it is a focus of both the New Zealand government and the global community.

Greg Harris is a specialist tax partner in the Hamilton office of Deloitte.

– Stuff

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Vatican to share information

15 Fortune 500 companies paid no federal income taxes in 2014

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Apr 122015
 

Amid calls for a major overhaul of the federal tax system, a new study shows that 15 major Fortune 500 companies avoided paying taxes on $23 billion in profits in 2014.

Moreover, these companies — including CBS Corporation, Mattel, Prudential and Ryder System — paid almost no federal income tax on $107 billion over the past five years.

According to the study by Citizens for Tax Justice, all but two of the companies received federal tax rebates last year. And almost all paid exceedingly low effective tax rates over five years.

There was nothing illegal or improper about what these companies did. They were merely taking advantage of major corporate tax loopholes and provisions long part of the fabric of the U.S. tax code.

While recent policy discourse has focused on multinational corporations that use offshore tax havens to minimize their tax liability, the companies profiled here appear to be using a diverse array of other tax breaks to zero out their federal income taxes, the new study stated.

For instance,Jetblue, PG&E, PEPCO Holdingsandthe Ryder truck rental serviceallused accelerated depreciation, a tax break that allows companies to write off the cost of their capital investments much faster than these investments wear out, to dramatically reduce their tax rates. CTJ estimated that closing the popular accelerated depreciation loophole could raise more than $428 billion for the government over the next decade.

Pricelinerelied heavily on a single tax break writing off the value of executive stock options for tax purposes to zero out its tax liability. Qualcommhas enjoyed more than $290 million in research and development tax breaks over the past three years.

As Congress focuses on strategies for revamping the U.S. corporate income tax, a sensible starting point should be to critically assess the costs of each of these tax breaks and to take steps to ensure that profitable corporations pay their fair share of U.S. taxes, the study stated.

The Obama administration and House and Senate Republican leaders have repeatedly voiced interest in corporate tax reform this year to spur economic growth by reducing excessive tax rates, eliminating costly loopholes and encouraging multinational corporations to pay taxes on profits currently being sheltered overseas.

In mid-February, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), the new House Ways and Means Committee chair, laid out an ambitious agenda for his tax-writing and fiscal policy committee for the coming two years — including what he hopes will be the first big phase of comprehensive tax reform by late summer. .

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15 Fortune 500 companies paid no federal income taxes in 2014

Accounting giants say corporate tax advice is within the law

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Apr 112015
 

Major accounting firms say they are not doing anything illegal in helping corporations to minimise tax liabilities.

KPMG’s managing partner Rosheen Garnon faced the second day of the Senate inquiry into tax avoidance, which has so far heard Australia is missing out on billions of dollars in tax every year through avoidance and the use of loopholes.

“When we give advice and it relates to structuring it is done within the law, we always act within the law,” he said.

Senator Christine Milne raised concerns that KPMG and other major accounting firms advertise their abilities to aggressively minimise tax for clients.

“What these companies are doing is legal,” rebutted Ms Garnon.

She went on to repudiate suggestions by Senator Milne that the company’s offices in tax havens are acting immorally.

“If the clients have a commercial reason to be there, we will be there,” Ms Garnon added.

Google, Apple, Newscorp and Microsoft conceded to the inquiry yesterday that they do send Australian revenue offshore to more tax effective jurisdictions, but all insisted what they are doing is legal.

Microsoft admitted that the $2 billion it makes in Australia annually goes straight to Singapore, where the company tax rate is significantly lower.

Ernst and Young partner Rob McLeod told the committee Australias best bet was to keep working on multilateral tax reform through the OECD.

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Accounting giants say corporate tax advice is within the law

KPMG says all its corporate tax advice is within the law

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Apr 112015
 

Major accounting firms say they are not doing anything illegal in helping corporations to minimise tax liabilities.

KPMG’s managing partner Rosheen Garnon faced the second day of the Senate inquiry into tax avoidance, which has so far heard Australia is missing out on billions of dollars in tax every year through avoidance and the use of loopholes.

“When we give advice and it relates to structuring it is done within the law, we always act within the law,” he said.

Senator Christine Milne raised concerns that KPMG and other major accounting firms advertise their abilities to aggressively minimise tax for clients.

“What these companies are doing is legal,” rebutted Ms Garnon.

She went on to repudiate suggestions by Senator Milne that the company’s offices in tax havens are acting immorally.

“If the clients have a commercial reason to be there, we will be there,” Ms Garnon added.

Google, Apple, Newscorp and Microsoft conceded to the inquiry yesterday that they do send Australian revenue offshore to more tax effective jurisdictions, but all insisted what they are doing is legal.

Microsoft admitted that the $2 billion it makes in Australia annually goes straight to Singapore, where the company tax rate is significantly lower.

Ernst and Young partner Rob McLeod told the committee Australias best bet was to keep working on multilateral tax reform through the OECD.

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KPMG says all its corporate tax advice is within the law

Long-overdue tax revolt is finally under way in Britain

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Apr 112015
 

When I moved from New York to London in the mid-1990s as a foreign correspondent, I hired a British accountant to ease me into the countrys tax system. That he did. He told me about non-domiciled tax status non-dom for short a popular little perk I had never heard of previously. I filled in a few forms and suddenly I was in fiscal heaven.

Non-dom status dates back to the Napoleonic wars, a historical quirk that has endured for more than two centuries even though it is entirely unfair, sexist, open to abuse and of dubious utility to the governments strategic goals.

It allows foreigners with family and business links abroad (in my case Canada) and some Brits who were lucky enough to have a father, but not a mother, born outside of Britain to declare another country as their real domicile.

The status allows non-doms to pay no tax in Britain on any income or capital gains earned outside of Britain, although, since 2008, they have had to pay an annual fee to maintain their status. It meant I paid tax only on the portion of my salary that I brought into Britain (I scrapped my non-dom status after a year, when it seemed that London was becoming my permanent home). The non-dom tax dodge is entirely legal, encouraged even, and still is. This week, Labour Party Leader Ed Miliband promised to abolish it if Labour wins the May 7 election. The pledge opened a new front in what had been a tedious and predictable campaign. The pledge worked. Mr. Miliband is now leading the polls as David Camerons Conservatives and the conservative press find themselves defending the indefensible.

A long-overdue tax revolt is finally getting under way in Europe and its not one against excessive taxes, although that exists, too. The revolt is aimed at wealthy individuals and corporations who game the system so expertly that they pay hardly any taxes, or less tax than fairness would dictate. Europe is riddled with tax havens whose role is to deprive high-tax countries from the resources they need to support their social systems. The Channel Islands, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, the Netherlands and Ireland all offer corporations and individuals low-tax bolt holes that many finance directors and yacht-equipped oligarchs cannot resist, and who can blame them?

Last week, the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations revealed that Canadas Eldorado Gold was using Dutch mailbox addresses to trim its tax load in effectively bankrupt Greece (where, incidentally, high-seas shipping companies are exempt from taxes). Google, Amazon, Starbucks and Apple, among other global biggies, employ entire departments dedicated to devising phenomenally clever, yet apparently legal, tax-avoidance schemes in Europe.

In 2013, a U.S. Senate investigation showed that Apple had paid just 2-per-cent tax on income of $74-billion (U.S.) over three years, largely by exploiting Irelands rather convenient tax code. Amazon runs most of its European operations out of Luxembourg, allowing it to minimize taxes from operations in other European countries.

Sadly, the effort to crack down on blatant tax avoidance schemes has few high-profile champions. Countries such as Luxembourg seem to have tax avoidance infused into their sovereign DNA. Last year, it was revealed that no less than former Luxembourg prime minister Jean-Claude Juncker, now President of the European Commission, had overseen the introduction of laws that turned Luxembourg into a tax haven. Meanwhile, of course, the European Commission is urging Greece to get serious about tax collection.

Mr. Milibands pledge to sink the non-doms unleashed a pointless debate. Various Tories argued that scrapping the loophole would scare away wealthy investors, costing her majestys treasure a fortune. Jobs would vanish and London would lose its status as an international finance centre. Billionaires would bolt from Mayfair and Kensington and head to Liechtenstein or some obscure tax haven tucked away in the Pyrenees (as if). Labour said ending the non-dom freebie would bring in about 1-billion ($1.8-billion) a year in taxes. That claim is equally absurd. The net effect is a wild guess, although its probable that any losses or gains to the treasury would hardly be enormous.

But thats not the point. The point is fairness. The non-dom loopholes make the rich richer, which widens the wealth divide and builds resentment among the unwealthy, all the more so since the non-dom definition appears to be overly flexible. HSBC boss Stuart Gulliver, who was born in Britain and has worked In London since 2003, is a non-dom (he considers his home Hong Kong, where he spent most of his career).

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Long-overdue tax revolt is finally under way in Britain

Tax Inquiry: Live blog Google, Apple, Microsoft and News Corp front inquiry on tax avoidance

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Apr 112015
 

Google Australia CEO Carnegie

Today sawonline giants Google, Apple and Microsoft, along with media company News Corp Australia appear before the Senate Economic References Committee which waslooking at the issue of corporate tax avoidance.

Mumbrellaliveblogged the afternoon appearances,which included Google Australia managing directorMaile Carnegieand News Corp Australia CEOJulian Clarke.

This live blog is now closed, however it covers the full two-and-a-half hours of testimony.

Live blog:

4.17pm -Senator Dastyari has just wrapped up the session with News Corp in order foranother witness (from the Property Council) to appear.

Well close off the blog here. But thank you to everyone who go involved in todays live blog and stay tuned to the website where well have reports on the tech trio Google, Apple and Microsoft plus separate coverage of News Corp later this afternoon.

4.14pm – News Corps boss says it does not use secrecy jurisdictions (read: tax havens). However, the company has admitted thatseven companies, most associated with real estate online business REA,operate in tax shelters in Luxemborg and Hong Kong. News says it has legitimate businesses in those places and again notes 98 per cent of News Corp Australias business comes from Australia.

It is too easy to divert money through these places but we are not doing that, said Clarke.

4.09pm – Things are getting testy now in the inquiry. Clarke just accused Senator Milne of not understanding the transaction.

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Tax Inquiry: Live blog Google, Apple, Microsoft and News Corp front inquiry on tax avoidance

Live blog: Google, Apple, Microsoft and News Corp front inquiry on tax avoidance

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Apr 082015
 

Google Australia CEO Carnegie

Today sawonline giants Google, Apple and Microsoft, along with media company News Corp Australia appear before the Senate Economic References Committee which waslooking at the issue of corporate tax avoidance.

Mumbrellaliveblogged the afternoon appearances,which included Google Australia managing directorMaile Carnegieand News Corp Australia CEOJulian Clarke.

This live blog is now closed, it covers the full two-and-a-half hours of testimony.

Live blog:

4.17pm -Senator Dastyari has just wrapped up the session with News Corp in order foranother witness (from the Property Council) to appear.

Well close off the blog here. But thank you to everyone who go involved in todays live blog and stay tuned to the website where well have reports on the tech trio Google, Apple and Microsoft plus separate coverage of News Corp later this afternoon.

4.14pm – News Corps boss says it does not use secrecy jurisdictions (read: tax havens). However, the company has admitted thatseven companies, most associated with real estate online business REA,operate in tax shelters in Luxemborg and Hong Kong. News says it has legitimate businesses in those places and again notes 98 per cent of News Corp Australias business comes from Australia.

It is too easy to divert money through these places but we are not doing that, said Clarke.

4.09pm – Things are getting testy now in the inquiry. Clarke just accused Senator Milne of not understanding the transaction.

See the original post here:
Live blog: Google, Apple, Microsoft and News Corp front inquiry on tax avoidance

Why companies that avoid tax should be named and shamed

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Apr 072015
 

Starbucks began paying tax in Britain after a consumer backlash. Photo: Bloomberg

The idea thatany company would choose to pay more tax than it legally needs to seems extraordinary on the surface. But that is exactly what happened in Britainin 2013, when Starbucks unexpectedly decided to voluntarily pay 20 million ($38 million) in taxes.

From 1998 to 2013, the coffee conglomerate made 3 billionin sales running 735 Britishstores, yet only once paid tax in Britain.Starbucks’ tax structure was complicated, but the principle was simple. Special “royalty fees” were paid to its Dutch operation, making the operation in Britain (where taxes are higher) unprofitable and the business in the Netherlands (where taxes are lower) profitable.

When their tax practices were publicly exposed and discredited, Starbucks faced a consumer revolt.

So what caused Starbucks’ sudden change of heart? It wasn’t a change in tax law; it was driven by consumer behaviour. When their tax practices were publicly exposed and discredited, Starbucks faced a consumer revolt.Protests and boycotts from customers left Starbucks with little choice; either start paying their fair share of tax or cop a significant sales backlash.

Australia can and should learn from this example. The worst practitioners of profit shifting and tax minimisation should be named and shamed. We know about the practices of tech giants such as Google, Apple and Microsoft mostly from international reports. But while tech companies are the masters of tax minimisation, they are just the tip of the iceberg. The Australian Tax Office should be playing a public role in exposing poor behaviour across the board.

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The Tax Commissioner, Chris Jordan, has been championing a new approach to enforcement. He has instigated an aggressive stance, put together specialist teams targeting Australia’s largest firms and is legally challenging what he has deemed “artificial and contrived” tax structures. All of this while suffering 4700 job cuts across the tax office. But this new-found activism from the ATO is undermined by its refusal to come forward with information on which companies it knows are engaging in aggressive tax minimisation.

On Wednesdaythe ATO will be coming before the Australian Senate as part of our hearings into corporate tax avoidance. It will be called upon to the name those companies that are engaged in the worst tax-minimisation practices.

The ATO has revealed more than $60 billion a year is transferred in internal company transfers from Australian operations to international tax havens. If even half of that was otherwise taxable profit, our budget bottom line would be almost $5 billion better a year. That would go a long way, for instance, to funding the proposed Gonski reforms to education that have already been slashed.

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Why companies that avoid tax should be named and shamed

Synopsis | Tax Havens And Offshore Finance By Richard Anthony Johns – Video

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Apr 032015
 



Synopsis | Tax Havens And Offshore Finance By Richard Anthony Johns
THE SYNOPSIS OF YOUR FAVORITE BOOK =— Where to buy this book? ISBN: 9781472510273 Book Synopsis of Tax Havens and Offshore Finance by Richard Anthony Johns If you want to…

By: Tatsuru Hon

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Synopsis | Tax Havens And Offshore Finance By Richard Anthony Johns – Video

Energy company's $11 billion transfer to Singapore rings tax avoidance alarm bells

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Apr 032015
 

EXCLUSIVE

Heightened worries: Tax Commissioner Chris Jordan. Photo: Bradley Kanaris

An energy company operating in Australia transferred more than $11 billion to the low-tax jurisdiction of Singapore in a single year, heightening concerns that Australia is being duped by tax-minimising multinationals.

The extraordinary scale of funds being moved out of the country by individual companies is revealed in an internal Australian Tax Office memo, obtained under Freedom of Information.

It lists 10 companies that channelled a combined $31.4 billion from Australia to Singapore in the 2011-2012 financial year.

An estimated $60 billion in so-called “related parties” transactions went from Australia to tax havens in the same year.

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Tax Commissioner Chris Jordan and a number of his senior colleagues have recently flagged concerns about cross-border transfers and intra-company refinancing and the potential that they are linked to tax avoidance.

The Tax Office is particularly concerned about mining and energy companies extracting Australian minerals which have established “marketing hubs” in Singapore that appear to have little use other than as a destination for shifted profits.

An ATO spokeswoman said the issue was currently under investigation. “I can confirm that we currently have 15 audits of marketing hubs under way with more ready to go,” she said.

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Energy company's $11 billion transfer to Singapore rings tax avoidance alarm bells

From HP Sauce: Green grow the blushes, oh!

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Apr 032015
 

QUANDARIES abound for the Green Party and its biggest donor, Dame Vivienne Westwood. In the last Eye we wondered whether Westwoods lame excuses for her embarrassing Luxembourg tax arrangements which contravene the Greens policy on tax havens would wash with the party faithful. Came the answer: No.

Within hours the national executive of the Young Greens withdrew its invitation for the flighty fashion designer to bang the drum ahead of the general election with a tour of eight university campuses. Party leader Natalie Bennett and MP Caroline Lucas (who has recently slated other parties reliance on celebrity support) are keeping schtum. But media spokesman and Liverpool candidate Martin Dobson has revealed that the party is now investigating Westwoods business arrangements.

The Starbucks model Her main company, VWL, adopts the Starbucks model and pays 2?m a year to Luxembourg-based parent Latimo, thus avoiding annual tax payments of around 500,000. This will be scrutinised by the independent tax specialist engaged by the party leadership, who it is to be hoped will also look into other offshore payments, such as the 4m paid by VWL to Latimos Italian subsidiary, Vivienne Westwood Srl, in 2013.

While Dame Viv sticks to her stock response of boasting that she pays income tax, ignoring that the issue is her corporate tax arrangements, her businesses continue to let the side down by employing unpaid interns, again in contravention of Green Party policy. End unpaid internships, proclaims the manifesto. The Green Party believes they should not be used as an ongoing source of free full time labour. Yet in March alone, VWL advertised jobs for two voluntary (ie unpaid) internships at its south London HQ, one in the press office and the other in the jewellery department. Both specified: The role will be for approximately 5 days a week, Monday to Friday between 10:00 am to 6:00 pm, although as this is a voluntary position, these requirements are flexible.

Accusations of greenwash Its all a bit of a pickle. If the tax specialist clears Westwood, the accusations of greenwash will mount. If the facts as set out in the VWL accounts are confirmed, the pressure will be on to return Westwoods 300,000 donation to party coffers: Sheffield Central candidate Jillian Creasy is among those calling for this. There are already problems justifying the use of Vivs funds to set up Bristol West candidate Darren Hall in swish campaign offices overlooking the harbour in one of the citys most expensive commercial zones.

According to tax experts, Westwood could start the process of repatriating her finances as a gesture of solidarity, but fashion industry insiders know that her Italian business partner, Carlo DAmario, would be extremely resistant to messing with the tax-efficient and entirely legal framework he set up in Luxembourg more than a dozen years ago.

Credibility over sustainability Last weeks announcement of the opening this autumn of a multi-million dollar Westwood boutique on three floors of a six-storey Beaux Art townhouse in midtown Manhattan shreds the remaining credibility over Westwoods claims to sustainability. Just a year ago she announced her intention to reduce the environmental effects of her business by downscaling. I have decided not to expand any more; in fact I want to do exactly the opposite, Westwood told the Observer.

As the Green Party is learning to its cost, what the Dame says and what she does are not necessarily the same thing.

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From HP Sauce: Green grow the blushes, oh!




Pierre Teilhard De Chardin | Designer Children | Prometheism | Euvolution | Transhumanism