Friday, November 28, 2014

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Taxing across Borders

The creative classes

Myths of Note

Digging Opals in Sydney

There's an Opal Card rebellion going on in Sydney. A group of dedicated skinflints are using hacks on the new transport card system to save themselves $20 a week. Yep. It has come to this. It all began when the NSW Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian dared Sydneysiders to try and hack the system Hacking Opals

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

ABC of Moving Political Lips - A story of Lucy

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has denied he has broken a pledge not to cut funding to the ABC and SBS, telling Parliament his government had "fundamentally kept faith with the Australian people". The comments were Mr Abbott's first on budget changes to the ABC since a $254 million reduction was announced by Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull last week. ABC breaking up is hard to do - promises worth the moving lips

“Feeling really lucky,” Donald Johanson wrote in his diary the morning of 24 November 1974, while staying at a remote camp in northern Ethiopia’s Afar region. Hours later, the palaeoanthropologist, now at Arizona State University in Tempe, happened upon the 3.2-million-year-old remains of a small-bodied early human, possibly on the lineage that gave rise to Homo sapiens. He and his collaborators named itAustralopithecus afarensis, and the skeleton became known to the world as Lucy. Forty years on, Johanson, now 71, talks about the discovery and Lucy’s enduring importance and appeal.What researchers have learned about human evolution 40 years since Lucy

Barry O'Farrell aka O'Barrell rolling out: Leggy Iggy Azalea rules Down Under

Former New South Wales premier Barry O'Farrell has confirmed he will not recontest his seat in the state election in March. Mr O'Farrell resigned as NSW premier in April after blaming a "massive memory fail" for giving incorrect evidence at an Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) hearing Retired at 55Timeline as Barry bows our

NSW Police Deputy Commissioner Nick Kaldas met privately with a state MP to ask for his help in relation to a secret Ombudsman’s inquiry just days before the politician set up a parliamentary select committee to investigate the Ombudsman’s work.
The committee, chaired by the same NSW MP, Robert Borsak, was established this week following concerns the Ombudsman’s inquiry had been derailed and was unfairly targeting whistleblowers rather than alleged corruption within the state’s police State Politics deputy police chief meets MP re secret inquiry

Queen of the night: Iggy Azalea performs at the 2014 American Music Awards.
Queen of the night: Iggy Azalea performs at the 2014 American Music Awards
Villawood/Hollywood life Iggy Azalea

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Catalogue of Surreal Moments During Taxing Times

Tax attorney used IDs of dead children to avoid taxes  (18 Nov 2014)

Tax officials wrongly calculated their own performance to make it look as if they had recouped nearly £2bn more in unpaid taxes than they actually had, MPs have revealed in a highly critical report into HM Revenue & Customs.
The spectacular blunder meant HMRC’s performance was massively overstated in its 2011-12 and 2012-13 annual reports, and as recently as May this year in a separate publication about its achievements, the Public Accounts Committee has disclosed.
MPs slam the taxman blunder & catalogue failures

Only a fraction of tax arrangements by large business were successfully litigated because companies such as Chevron were able to devote resources to fighting the ATO. In comparison smaller taxpayers could not Unequal treatment of small businesses / lack of level playing fields

UK House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts Report: HMRC’s progress in improving tax compliance and preventing tax avoidance (18 Nov 2014)

G20 takes first step to tackle anonymous company ownership  (17 Nov 2014)

Tax traffic lights 2014: Country rating system on tax (17 Nov 2014)

HSBC's private banking arm accused of tax fraud by Belgium  (17 Nov 2014)

Tech hub: France becomes new tax haven for R&D firms  (18 Nov 2014)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

How can Scandinavians tax so much?

Henrik Jacobsen Kleven has a new JEP piece on that question., here is one short excerpt:
…these countries also spend relatively large amounts on the public provision and subsidization of goods that are complementary to working, including child care, elderly care, and transportation. Such policies represent subsidies to the costs of market work, which encourage labor supply and make taxes less distortionary…Furthermore, Scandinavian countries spend heavily on education, which is complementary to long-run labor supply and potentially offsets some of the distortionary effects of taxation…

The paper makes numerous other good points.
By Besley and Persson, here is a related JEP piece on why developing economies tax so little.  And here is a recent piece on whether Sweden can become a fully cashless society.  By the way, the full issue of JEP is here.

Losing to Win

Abstract: We study an infinite horizon model of political competition where parties face a trade-off between winning today and winning tomorrow. Parties choose between nominating moderates, who are more viable, or partisans, who can energize the base and draw in new voters which helps win future elections. Only moderates can win in equilibrium and so the winning party fails to invest in its base and has a weaker future. Hence the longer a party is in power the more likely they are to lose, a pattern that finds strong support in the data. This dynamic also creates an electoral cycle where parties regularly take turns in power.
The paper is here (pdf), Kai’s job market paper on Tiebout competition and minorities is here (pdf), it covers how mobility can lead to a race to the bottom when it comes to protecting the rights of minority workers.

Recession Stories

Definition of recession is when your neighbour loses a job / depression starts when you lose a job ...

The model also predicts that recessions accelerate the decline in routine occupations—firms prefer to destroy routine jobs during a downturn, when the opportunity cost of restructuring is low. This acceleration can account for recent cyclical changes of the labor market: routine job losses are concentrated in recessions and the ensuing recoveries are jobless.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Lobbying Used to Be a Crime

How leading Tor developers and advocates tried to smear me after I reported their US Government ties Pando Daily. Mechanical typewriters. Cloth ribbons. It’s the only way.

If there’s one way to summarize Zephyr Teachout’s extraordinary book Corruption in AmericaFrom Benjamin Franklin’s Snuff Box to Citizens United, it is that today we are living in Benjamin Franklin’s dystopia. Her basic contention, which is not unfamiliar to most of us in sentiment if not in detail, is that the modern Supreme Court has engaged in a revolutionary reinterpretation of corruption and therefore in American political life. This outlook, written by Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy in the famous Citizens United case, understands and celebrates America as a brutal and Hobbesian competitive struggle among self-interested actors attempting to use money to gain personal benefits in the public sphere.
What makes the book so remarkable is its scope and ability to link current debates to our rich and forgotten history. Perhaps this has been done before, but if it has, I have never seen it. Liberals tend to think that questions about electoral and political corruption started in the 1970s, in the Watergate era. What Teachout shows is that these questions were foundational in the American Revolution itself, and every epoch since. They are in fact questions fundamental to the design of democracy.
Teachout starts her book by telling the story of a set of debates that took place even before the Constitution was ratified — whether American officials could take gifts from foreign kings. The French King, as a matter of diplomatic process, routinely gave diamond-encrusted snuff boxes to foreign ambassadors. Americans, adopting a radical Dutch provision banning such gifts, wrestled with the question of temptation to individual public servants versus international diplomatic norms. The gifts ban, she argues, was evidence of a particular demanding notion of corruption at the heart of American legal history. These rules, ‘bright-line’ rules versus ‘corrupt-intent’ rules, govern temptation and structure. They cover innocent and illicit activity, as opposed to bribery rules which are organized solely around quid pro quo corruption.