Thursday, April 21, 2016

Stress on Compliance and Cooperation

“To re-faith himself,
He rummages lines,
Plangent or pungent,

By bards of sentence,
But all to his sample

Ring fribble or fop,

Not one of them worth

A hangman's wages.”

“Sloomy of face,
Snudge of spirit,
Snoachy of speech” 

No, it’s not Finnegans Wake, Lewis Carroll or a dyslexic’s best effort at poetry. It’s W. H. Auden’s “A Bad Night,”subtitled “(A Lexical Exercise)”, From Epistle to a Godson (1972)

The Daily Beast, Coachella’s Hot New Act: Filing Taxes at the Last MinuteAlmost a dozen concertgoers rushed to Indio, California’s post office to snail-mail returns to the IRS between dropping acid and listening to Guns N’ Roses.

Indian municipality aims to shame by sending percussionists to homes; payments come quickly”  The funny thing is, it seems to work through a reputation effect, rather than a “I can’t stand this drumming” effect

Read your return. Even if you use a tax pro, the IRS holds you responsible for what you file. Like everyone else, tax pros make mistakes. You should treat your tax pro as your teammate for tax compliance, not your dumping ground.

Another good way to read about Buddhism is to look at up through p.59 in Nicholas Ostler’s Passwords to Paradise: How Languages Have Re-Invented World Religions.  It covers the differential historical spread of Buddhism through the languages of Pali, Gandhari, Sanskrit, and Chinese.  Ostler himself claims to have a working knowledge of eighteen different languages.

Some wise characters are listening to Chad and Media Dragons: The federal government will spend hundreds of millions of dollars defending Australia from foreign cyber attacks including from countries like China. And for the first time, the government has revealed it employs offensive cyber capabilities to deter possible attacks - which could mean employing hackers to disrupt activities overseas  Iceberg Swimmer and PM Malcolm Turmbull injects $240m into cyber attack and defence
ASIC receive millions for data analytics

Hard Core Irony: The 60-page report, to be released by NSW Skills Minister John Barilaro on Wednesday, was commissioned to look at how to make public vocational education provider TAFE more efficient. Instead it has highlighted the difficulty the collapse of the scandal-plagued private vocational training sector is causing for the state government's privatisation agenda. Commissioned by the NSW government through TAFE NSW and completed by the Boston Consulting Group, the report labels TAFE NSW as "inefficient" and "uncompetitive" compared to private providers. It names only the private education operator NAVITAS and Australian Careers Network as comparators to the public network. NSW minister promotes tafe report involving company raided by federal police

Corporate tax avoidance Hearing 21 April 2016

Judge Garry Downes: ATO warns 60 multinationals 'enough is enough' on tax avoidance

Canada To Introduce New Anti-Avoidance Measures
The tragedy of ‘foreign policy elites’Washington Post

PwC and NAB roll out digital platform Airtax in bid to help self-employed and micro-businesses with GST compliance
Smart Company, 13/4/16. Professional services firm Pricewaterhouse Coopers and National Australia Bank are targeting the self-employed and operators of micro-businesses through the release of a digital platform that aims to help these groups manage their goods and services tax (GST) compliance and tax lodgements.
Canadian Budget Focuses On Tax Compliance
Tax News, 23/3/16. The first Budget tabled by Canada's new Liberal Government provides for a major crackdown on tax evasion and avoidance, and streamlines the domestic tax credits system.

YLE, 31/3/16. Finnish authorities uncovered a record number of financial offences last year.  Police received more than 1,800 reports of white-collar crimes - the largest number in a decade.

White House Infographic on InversionsInversions — or tax maneuvers that reward U.S. corporations that declare themselves overseas residents to avoid paying taxes in America — have drawn the ire of many Americans as an example of an unfair corporate tax loophole. The Treasury Department took another step to limit inversions. Get the facts below, and then pass this on White House infographic on-inversions

Legal Research at Your Fingertips: Lexis Views, Bestlaw, and Google for Lawyers? Ashley Ahlbrand  is the Educational Technology at Librarian Indiana University’s Maurer School of Law.
Her expert teaching and training skills offer readers insights into the role of Google as well as integrative browser add-ons like Lexis Views in preparing students to effectively and comprehensively complete research assignments.

Accountants Daily, 29/3/16. Accountants have been warned that it is only a matter of time before automation hits the accountant/client relationship, with one industry observer stating new software is increasing the "emotional bond" between the business owner and the accounting software provider.

Directions 2016: Current issues and challenges facing Australian directors and Boards
KWM, Mar 2016. The report looks at a range of issues and challenges facing Australian directors and Boards as they strive for growth in 2016 and beyond, covering: talent, digital disruption, corporate culture, stakeholder influence and cross border investment

Facebook, Google and Amazon to be forced to open up tax books by EU Independent

I am not predicting this scenario, but it is useful to think through which paths might restore the growth gains to the American middle class.  From my column in The Upshot, here is the section on China:
Much of the competition for American manufacturing has come from China, and recent research has shown that China’s economic impact in the United States has been bigger than many economists initially thought, and in some ways, it has been more painful. China’s manufacturing has held down American middle-class wages, while soaring Chinese demand for commodities has pushed up resource prices. Of course, cheap Chinese imports have made American paychecks go further, but that is no consolation for people who have lost their jobs or suffered lower wages as a consequence.
 What would a recovery path for the middle class look like

How CalPERS Was Taken By Private Equity Firm Silver Lake and Tried to Hide That (A Tale of Two Spreadsheets) 
In January 2008, CalPERS made what would seem to be a no-lose investment: the purchase of a 9.9% equity interest in Silver Lake Technology Management, which serves as the fund manager, or colloquially, the general partner, for various Silver Lake private equity funds. In her early years as a star analyst, Sallie Krawchek observed, “It’s better to work for a Wall Street firm than invest in one.” That same logic would seem to apply for CalPERS’ participating side-by-side with the firm’s founders in the management company: they would reap rewards akin to those of owner/operators rather than those of ordinary investors

USA Today: “Eleven current CEOs of S&P 500 companies, including Philippe Dauman of media giantViacom (VIAB), Marc Benioff of online sales software (CRM) and Robert Iger of media powerhouse Disney (DIS), are members of the lucrative $30-million-a-year club, based on an analysis of data from S&P Global Market Intelligence by USA TODAY of the 418 CEO pay packages reported so far. Total pay package sums were tallied using the methodology required by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Breaking the $30 million-a-year barrier was even more rare this year because the stagnant stock market stalled earnings growth, and anemic gains in pension values due to accounting changes put a lid on gains. In 2014, 22 of current S&P 500 CEOs made $30 million or more…”

Study: Customers (Especially Millennials) Hate When You Fail to Deliver Cross-Device Experiences
Adweek, 22/3/16. A new study released Tuesday by Adobe explores the cross-device preferences of consumers, finding that 66 percent of device owners get frustrated when content is not synchronized across devices.
Adobe Announces Cross-Device Co-op to Enable People-Based Marketing – press release
*Report –
Get Personal
Which is More Important: Cross-Channel or Cross-Device Attribution? – Adobe blog

Next generation of family business leaders ambitious to drive change but struggle with getting their voices heard
PWC, 11/4/16. The next generation of family business leaders are well prepared, confident, and above all they have great ambition – both for themselves and for their firms. 88% want to do something special with the business, not just bigger and stronger, but more international, more diversified, and more modern

What does “nuclear terrorism” really mean? Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

How terrorists groups like ISIS make money Business Insider

Czech out (sic) Feigenbaum and Muller in Lead Exposure and Violent Crime in the Early Twentieth Century. Lead, it ain’t just about Flint Lead Crime

New York Times op-ed:  The Real Welfare Cheats, by Nicholas Kristof:
We often hear how damaging welfare dependency is, stifling initiative and corroding the human soul. So I worry about the way we coddle executives in their suites.
A study to be released Thursday says that for each dollar America’s 50 biggest companies paid in federal taxes between 2008 and 2014, they received $27 back in federal loans, loan guarantees and bailouts.
Goodness! What will that do to their character? Won’t that sap their initiative?
The study was compiled by Oxfam and it comes on top of a mountain of evidence from international agencies and economic journals underscoring the degree to which major companies have rigged the tax code. ... The Oxfam report says that each $1 the biggest companies spent on lobbying was associated with $130 in tax breaks and more than $4,000 in federal loans, loan guarantees and bailouts. ...

There is a new paper about capuchin monkeys who punish those who have more by Kristin L. Leimgruber, Alexandra G. Rosati, and Laurie R. Santos, here is the abstract:
Punishment of non-cooperators is important for the maintenance of large-scale cooperation in humans, but relatively little is known about the relationship between punishment and cooperation across phylogeny. The current study examined second-party punishment behavior in a nonhuman primate species known for its cooperative tendencies—the brown capuchin monkey (Cebus apella). We found that capuchins consistently punished a conspecific partner who gained possession of a food resource, regardless of whether the unequal distribution of this resource was intentional on the part of the partner. A non-social comparison confirmed that punishment behavior was not due to frustration, nor did punishment stem from increased emotional arousal. Instead, punishment behavior in capuchins appears to be decidedly social in nature, as monkeys only pursued punitive actions when such actions directly decreased the welfare of a recently endowed conspecific. This pattern of results is consistent with two features central to human cooperation: spite and inequity aversion, suggesting that the evolutionary origins of some human-like punitive tendencies may extend even deeper than previously thought.

Another of those crazy free market Republicans got space in the Des Moines Register, in Iowa keeps picking losers; let the market decide, instead. A sample:
Markets are good at picking business winners, and government is generally lousy. Consider three Iowa examples.
Film tax credits. What did the Legislature know about the movie business? Nothing! But that didn’t stop us from throwing money in: $26 million in improperly awarded tax credits. Multiple fraud convictions.
The Fund of Funds. Iowa legislators played at being financial tycoons. Too bad no legislator had any expertise. A Rube Goldberg scheme with money and tax credits flowing here and there. Never mind the complexity, the Legislature plunged ahead. After all, it wasn’t legislators’ money that was at risk, just the taxpayers’.
In the end, the Fund of Funds came a cropper, too. Thank goodness for Tom Miller. The attorney general’s skillful negotiating limited the damage.
Orascom and its new the fertilizer plant.  The Executive Branch can screw up, too.
So who was this wild-eyed impractical free market fundamentalist? It’s Senator Herman Quirmbach, a Democrat from Ames. He’s such a free market fundamentalist that he has a 100% lifetime rating from the AFL-CIO, that noted nest of libertarians. Yet he is more sound in tax credit policy than any Republican legislator. He voted against the Iowa Renewable Biochemical credit, unlike every one of his GOP colleagues. He explains:
Markets do much better. Private investors either have expertise in the business or get it before they invest. Why? Because they are voluntarily investing their own cash. If, despite the best expertise, investors pick a loser, they lose their money, not yours. If they win, they own a piece of the business.
In short, the market creates the right incentives.
Let’s apply these lessons to the Renewable Chemical Production Tax Credit bill, which the governor just signed. These businesses intend to turn next-to-worthless “biomass feedstock” into something of actual market value.
Sounds interesting, but what do we know? When I asked if anybody in the Iowa Senate was a chemical engineer, nobody’s hand went up.  Again, we are investing the taxpayers’ money, not our own. And, if it should happen to turn out a winner, the taxpayers won’t own a piece of the business.

Exactly right. The lack of a single GOP legislator who agrees goes a long way towards explaining why Iowa has such an awful business tax climate.