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Review of 2016

December 31, 2016   Blog
2016: a year of fireworks (photo CC)

2016: a year of fireworks (photo CC)

2016 was the year when the world underwent profound political change. Most notably there were a series of political earthquakes in the US and Europe, with the election of Donald Trump and the decision of the UK to exit the European Union.

Going into 2017 these changes look likely to have a deep and lasting impact on tax policy and the distribution of wealth.

Switzerland seen backing down on supporting tax haven USA

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A curious love-hate financial relationship

In July we wrote a blog entitled Luxembourg backing down on supporting tax haven USA. Now it’s Switzerland’s turn.

This concerns the OECD’s Common Reporting Standard (CRS,) a global scheme to share banking information. The United States isn’t a participating jurisdiction: it has its own FATCA project, which as we’ve remarked before, is good at ferreting out US taxpayers overseas, but provides relative little information in the other direction to help other countries enforce their own tax laws. Making the United States a giant tax and secrecy haven.

Report: new data disproves US corporations’ false narrative on taxes

From Americans for Tax Fairness, a major new report about corporate taxes in the United States. It’s called Corporate Tax Chartbook: How Corporations Rig the Rules to Dodge the Taxes They Owe, and it contains many useful facts, such as this:

  • Corporate profits are way up, and corporate taxes are way down. In 1952, corporate profits were 5.5 percent of the economy, and corporate taxes were 5.9 percent. Today, corporate profits are 8.5 percent of the economy, and corporate taxes are just 1.9 percent of GDP.

Apple’s tax affairs: a symptom of the robber-baron culture

Updated with further information about Brazil’s decision – see below.

Now also on Angry Bear, Middle Class Political Economist

From the Financial Times:

corporate-america

More precisely, a group of 185 American CEOs has sent letters, co-ordinated by the Business Roundtable lobby group, to the leaders of 28 EU member states to try and get the European Commission to row back from claiming €13bn in underpaid taxes from Apple. They call the attempt a “grievous self-inflicted wound”.

Report: why we need to tax corporations now, more than ever

Update: now on Naked Capitalism, where it’s attracted a lot of interesting commentary

Last year we published a document entitled Ten Reasons to Defend the Corporate Income Tax, outlining how the tax is under constant attack, in country after country, and explaining why it is one of the most precious of all taxes. Now there’s another fascinating paper, rich in insight and detail, from US economist Kimberly Clausing, entitled “Strengthening the Indispensible U.S. Corporate Tax.

While US-focused, it contains a lot of material that provides extensive further support for our own generic document, and argues that the corporate income tax is becoming more, rather than less, important in our tax system(s). It also argues that tax rates for capital, which is currently taxed at lower rates than labour is, should be harmonised with the labour rate, and supports so-called ‘formulary apportionment‘ approaches to taxing U.S. corporations internationally.

We’ll start by highlighting a graph:

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