Monday, August 31, 2015

That Greatest Reinvention ~ Taxes: the Price of Civilisation even if Big Thieves Tend to Hang the Little Thieves

This Vice News segment makes the normally dry and daunting subject of taxes (really tax policy) accessible and entertaining. Plus it features Lee Sheppard, who is the oxymoron of a tax celebrity (see this New York Times article) and is also a friend of NC. Certainties of Life
Denmark reveals €800m tax fraud – the country's biggest

Surge of investment scams sparks alarm in City Financial Times

Bean Counters to the Rescue Foreign Affairs 

If You’re Not P******* Your Pants In Fear Over China, You’re Not Scared Enough: Jim Chanos 

The Atlantic, Can Yelp Make Government Agencies Work Better?: The feds are partnering with the popular review site to encourage feedback on public services like the TSA and IRS—and preparing to get an earful. The IRS currently has a 2.5 rating (out of 5) on Yelp.

TaxGrrrl, Lawyers, Accountants and Administrators, Oh My! Putting Together A Professional Team. “I know what you’re thinking. A professional team costs money. And startups and small businesses are often short on money”

H&R Block’s entire business model is premised on taxes being confusing and hard to file.

Tipping, power, and the gig economy mathbabe

The Isle of Man is a strange place. Home to four-horned sheep, cats without tails, and perfectly preserved Victorian-era steam locomotives, this rock in the middle of the Irish Sea is perhaps best known for hosting the world's most dangerous motorcycle race, the Manx TT.
It is also a place where, after you take a 70-minute flight from London, a car service called The Lady Chauffeurs will meet you at the airport in a silver Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Imagine my surprise, then, when I'm greeted at arrivals by Keith, who, while courteous, impeccably dressed in a grey suit, and an able driver, is most decidedly not a lady. "All of our regular drivers are busy," says an apologetic Nula Perren, who owns the company and has accompanied Keith to the airport. Not that I mind. I didn't choose The Lady Chauffeurs for its ladies – I booked for the bitcoin.

The Danegeld (/ˈdn.ɡɛld/;[1] “Danish tax”, literally “Dane tribute”) was a tax raised to paytribute to the Viking raiders to save a land from being ravaged. 
Now the money is going the other way, it appears, because the Danish tax agency is outdoing the IRS in sending money to thieves, no questions asked. reports Danes stunned by €800mn tax fraud:
Criminals have duped Denmark’s tax authority into incorrectly refunding €830 million in the past three years, by filling out an online form for tax refunds under double taxation agreements.
The fraud was alerted to police on Wednesday (26 August) and appears to be the country’s biggest tax scam ever, with little chance for the state to recover the money.
They apparently made it easy:
With most of Danish taxes administrated online, it was easy for the fraudsters to fill in the one-page, so-called 06.020 form on the tax authority’s homepage and then claim refunds for taxes paid on stock revenues from Danish companies held by foreign companies.
The fraud would have been easily revealed if the tax authority cross-checked the ownership of shares with Danish companies.
Denmark has about 5 million people, so it’s as though the scammers had taken $185 from every Dane. That would translate to about a $55 billion theft loss in the U.S. Actual annual losses from U.S. tax refund fraud are estimated to run in the neighborhood of $5-6 billion annually.
Being better than Denmark doesn’t seem to comfort one congressman very much. Deseret News reports Congressman Jason Chaffetz is victim of tax return scam:
Chaffetz, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, is using the incident to add fuel to his call for the firing of IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.
The congressman asked President Barack Obama last month to remove Koskinen, saying he has obstructed congressional investigations into the treatment of conservative groups. Chaffetz said not only has Koskinen ignored a congressional subpoena but has shown an inability to manage a large organization and protect sensitive data.
“There has to be a better, smarter way to authenticate who somebody is. Social Security numbers are floating out there everywhere,” the congressman said.
While the refund fraud debacle started before Koskinen became IRS Commissioner, he sure hasn’t gotten it under control.