Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Great Tax Robbery

In the last century the famous American Judge Oliver Wendell Holmes, in one of his judgements, argued that ‘Taxes are what we pay for civilised society.’
Quoting Holmes President F. D. Roosevelt in a speech in 1937 added: ‘Too many individuals, however, want the civilisation at a discount’.

The art of socialising loses (discounts) and the craft of privatising profit..Labour's biggest non-union donation is from PwC – a firm accused of "promoting tax avoidance"  

 Source: Treasury 2013/14 data for HICL-owned schools and hospitals
Many of your treasured public infrastructure assets, paid for by UK taxpayers, are now in the hands of the super-rich and the bankers. They are held in PFI “special purpose vehicle” shell companies registered ‘offshore’ for maximum ‘tax efficiency’ in the tax havens of Guernsey and Luxembourg Fifty shades of tax avoidance: what are bankers doing with our schools and hospital

The problem for the ‘ little people ‘ who pay their taxes as Prem Sikka the Professor of Accounting at Essex University points out is the ‘ cosy arrangement between big business and those who are supposed to be collecting our taxes.’

Brooks first effort “Plundering the Public Sector” and latest book “The Great Tax Robbery” set out in jaw-dropping detail the culture of a “revolving door” of staff secondments between the ‘Big 4’ accountancy firms (such as PwC), HM Treasury and HMRC to set up and run schemes like PFI, simultaneously acting as advisors to both the public, and private sector partners of PFI deals, and then being rehired to clean up their own mess

‘Too much carrot and not enough stick’ in the words of one commentator.

John Miller, formerly a senior partner in audit firms and head of the accounting industry peak body that is now CPA Australia, said the leadership of the profession no longer had the same clout as it did 30 years ago, when he and the Institute of Chartered Accountants collaborated with the government to stamp out the widespread corporate rorting. Miller said the infamous "bottom of the harbour" tax schemes back then were "no more scandalous" than some of the aggressive tax minimisation strategies used by multinational companies today Corporate wolves dressed up as sheep : sophisticated bottom of the Sydney Harbour type schemes

Tax justice activists have promoted this idea to great effect in the campaign against tax havens, or secrecy jurisdictions as I helped rename them from 2008 onwards, with some success. What we began to argue from the time that the Tax Justice Network Financial Secrecy Index was launched (the first iteration of which I directed) was that it was not tax per se that induced people to use tax havens, it was the secrecy that did. No one would use tax havens for cheating if they could be found out to be doing so was our point. And therefore, we argued, transparency was the answer.
The result, and I think we can fairly argue it flowed pretty directly from our work, has been the massive change in culture on this issue where the USA and OECD have in combination lead a significant change in government approach to tax havens, away from the information exchange on request approach to such places adopted as recently as 2009 towards automatic information exchange of data on accounts held by persons in such places where the beneficial owner is resident in another place with data on that account now to be automatically sent to that person’s home jurisdiction, starting in 2016  How to beat tax evasion in the UK 

According to The Australian Financial Review, he church said in a submission to the Senate committee inquiry into corporate tax avoidance that it had hired a former Australian Federal Police and AUSTRAC officer on a short-term contract to map Glencore’s structure in Australia Tax structures: Mark Zirnsak