Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Taxing Matter and Health Privacy

Chinese woman undergoes plastic surgery to evade £2.8 million debt

Labor promises to tackle the family trust tax problem ABC 7:30 31 Aug 2017

Harmonising Australia’s privacy regime. Privacy by Design is picking up steam, with advocates emboldened by the new reality of a growing data-driven economy. Victoria Draudins maps how Australia's public sector privacy bodies are responding to the challenges from both home and the world.

David S. Miller (Proskauer), The Tax App: Eliminating Tax Returns Entirely:
Congress could very easily achieve return-free filing — without IRS involvement or any substantive changes to the tax code — by simply requiring all tax information providers (such as employers, banks, stock brokerage firms, and charities) to make the tax information they hold (e.g., IRS Forms W-2s, 1099s, 1098s, and charitable donation information) available electronically in a single accessible format so that a taxpayer could receive all of his or her tax information electronically.

ATO assistant commissioner Tony Poulakis returns after being stood down 

Should The Government Continue To Exempt Churches From Taxation?

Foxconn’s plan for a $10 billion factory in Wisconsin is certainly good news for President Trump and Republican politicians Gov. Scott Walker and Speaker Paul D. Ryan, whose district the plant would call home.
But the deal with Foxconn, the Taiwanese electronics supplier, comes with a heavy price tag for Wisconsin taxpayers: $3 billion in state tax credits that dwarf the typical incentive package companies receive from local governments.
Even as Mr. Walker celebrated the news with Foxconn executives at a rally at the Milwaukee Art Museum on Thursday, experts on the political left and right alike said the rewards were not justified by the cost of the tax breaks.

The Front Door Opens Wide for the Backdoor Roth IRA, by Philip Manns (Liberty) & Timothy Todd (Liberty)

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office for Civil Rights (OCR) today launched a revised web tool that puts important information into the hands of individuals, empowering them to better identify recent breaches of health information and to learn how all breaches of health information are investigated and successfully resolvedThe HBRT may be found at: https://ocrportal.hhs.gov/ocr/breach/breach_report.jsf.  For additional information on HIPAA breach notification, visit:  https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-professionals/breach-notification” 

Memo to Republicans in Congress: It’s time to move on.
Your efforts to strip insurance away from millions of Americans — I mean, reform Obamacare — are only making you look bad. And I’m not talking about the “mean” plan that the House passed that shows how many in the GOP lack basic compassion for their fellow Americans, or the infighting that’s making your party look directionless and weak-willed.

Stanford University researchers used smartphone data to obtain data on the amount of steps we take ever yday. Australia just managed to be included in the top 20 laziest coming in at 19

A decade after the housing bust upended the lives of millions of Americans, more U.S. households are headed by renters than at any point since at least 1965, according to a Pew Research Center analysis ofCensus Bureau housing data. The total number of households in the United States grew by 7.6 million between 2006 and 2016. But over the same period, the number of households headed by owners remained relatively flat, in part because of the lingering effects of the housing crisis. Meanwhile, the number of households renting their home increased significantly during that span, as did the share, which rose from 31.2% of households in 2006 to 36.6% in 2016. The current renting level exceeds the recent high of 36.2% set in 1986 and 1988 and approaches the rate of 37.0% in 1965…”  

Take vacations.
Next Leap for Robots: Picking Out and Boxing Your Online Order WSJ (Re Silc). Re Silc: “Zero jobs except prison guards and cops soon.”

It has been suggested that there should be a royal commission into the Australian Public Service to review its role and how it delivers services. The review is being called for as the world has radically changed since the last review of the public service in the 1970s Public Service Review

Adam Thimmesch (Surly Subgroup): Online Shopping and Tax Privacy

The privacy implications of online commerce are complicated and fascinating. On the one hand, it allows individuals to protect their privacy by shopping for sensitive items without the knowing glances of store clerks, fellow patrons, or those passing by. On the other hand, it creates a digital trail that can connect them to a particular vendor or purchase in perpetuity. This can occur with respect to items that are politically, medically, or sexually sensitive and with respect to items that they’d just prefer to keep a secret. (For example, if you forget to browse in private mode, you might find that your wife’s Facebook feed now includes ads for the items that you were searching out for her birthday. Woops. Sorry dear.)

A new piece in the Guardian gives us a fascinating insight into changing attitudes amongst the 1%.

The newspaper interviewed several high net earning individuals for their views on tax avoidance. Those interviewed by the Guardian at least were not fans. One corporate lawyer on £300k a year said:

“The position of the UK as a major player in the global financial secrecy world, presumably through crown dependencies such as the British Virgin Islands and the Caymans, is disgusting.”

A number advocated taxes on wealth to rebalance economic inequality.

The article is particularly interesting in the context of the recent general election in the UK, which saw a marked shift in the political makeup of the country. The result of the election saw a clear split in the electorate along educational levels, with higher earning university graduates voting for the left wing Labour party by a clear majority, with voters with fewer educational qualifications voting Conservative by a large majority. This result slightly surprised pollsters, given that the Labour manifesto focused tax raises on higher earners.
The full article is available here – and is topped by a video on jurisdictions ranked within Tax Justice Network’s 2015 Financial Secrecy Index, which is a good watch.

The article lists fourteen of Australia’s most obscure laws by state. This list was compiled after a Brisbane man was fined for taking a fridge on a train. Don’t ask I have no idea why anyone would want to take a fridge on a train, however  according to this report he isn’t the only person to use trains to carry furniture.

Do we need cash? Humans have used all sorts of things to exchange items of economic value -- rare metals, strings of shells and even sunken boulders. Those objects have gotten more ephemeral, with paper money replacing most coins, and digital forms increasingly supplanting paper. Could physical cash go away entirely? Economists see great payoffs in a cashless society: lower transaction costs, new tools to manage economic growth and an end to tax evasion and money laundering. Critics see an end to privacy, frightening new powers for tyrants and costs that would fall disproportionately on the poor. The giant, if unintended, experiment that followed India’s attempt to withdraw 86 percent of cash in circulation showed one thing clearly: The end of cash is not likely to be a neat or simple process.