Tag Archives: tax evasion

The Taxing Delicious

Taxing delicious is a new sweet tasting Apple, even sweeter than the golden Delicious, and it is to be regarded as healthy for body, mind and government. Yes, in this case it is not a new Irish Cider (which would be a nice idea too), this is about a company getting a bill. You see, the funny part of it was that if there had been no EU, Apple would have been 13 billion wealthier. How doesn’t that beat the odds?

These are some of the thoughts rising within me again as I read ‘Apple tax ruling must be overturned, says US business group‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/sep/16/apple-tax-ruling-must-be-overturned-says-us-business-group).

As I see it, if it is such an issue, why not do an appeal? You see, this entire issue is as convoluted as it is ever likely to get. When I see ‘Ireland Doesn’t Want Apple’s Back Taxes, but the Irish Aren’t So Sure‘ in the New York Times (at http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/12/business/international/ireland-doesnt-want-apples-back-taxes-but-the-irish-arent-so-sure.html), my initial response to Enda Kenny would be “Are you out of your bloody mind?” Now, let’s be partially fair. There is a method to the governments madness, yet even as giving in to big business might seem appealing, but the US is changing its taxation parameters (as well as tax accountability) and after the elections there is no way to tell how the US governments hats will be pointing, so getting what you can now is not the worst idea. In addition, when Apple et al will make the jump away and to other places, they will leave you with buildings that remain empty and will not have been paid off, so you will have a billion in real estate, whilst not having any return on investment, just empty buildings wasting away. That situation is not as unimaginative or as surreal as you might think. The idea that a government is appealing against a tax bill on behalf of a Forbes 500 company is entertaining, upsetting and obscene all at the same time, but that is sometimes how the cookie crumbles.

What is interesting in all this is how the EU courts will act, you see, if they give in now, it should be regarded as the utter uselessness of that court to begin with. It gives weight that not being part of that very expensive club is indeed the way to go, which will now give weight that Brexit was not a bad move and it will in addition fuel Frexit too. All that over a mere 13 billion invoice. Less than 5% of the costs of Greece, which fuelled Brexit to begin with. This is at the heart of the matter of what the Americans just cannot comprehend. They just received the massive blowback on the lesson that you cannot win every fight and that Economic Status Quo is an illusion that will collapse upon those believing in it.

So as we see the idiotic roundtable threaten those European leaders “In an open letter to the leaders of the 28 European Union countries, the Business Roundtable group defended Apple over its tax dispute with the European commission” and “US businesses have warned European leaders they risk a “grievous self-inflicted wound” unless they overturn Brussels’ demand that Apple pay the Irish government €13bn (£11.4bn)“, I just wonder if they even considered the stupidity of their actions. On the other hand, should those leaders cave, how stupid are the European elected officials to begin with? So as we wonder whether Randall L. Stephenson has looked into the long term issues of his act, when we see that these actions drive Frexit and possibly even Italy’s act on a referendum (although the major influences would be Brexit and Frexit), will Randall respond with a ‘this is much more complex and should not have been pushed by our, what we regard to be a righteous act‘, or will we see a spokesperson state ‘Our Chairman is currently unavailable and is taking his personal time teaching the Youth how to do a proper sheepshank‘? I will let you decide, but consider that tax accountability has been an issue for over a decade and now we finally see an actual result against a large corporation we see people backing down? Perhaps they thought it would never get that far? Just like Brexit was never going to be a reality!

Yet the Irish Times did not remain quiet and less than 24 hours ago reported (at http://www.irishtimes.com/business/technology/apple-fined-in-japan-for-under-reporting-earnings-sent-to-ireland-1.2793469), ‘Apple fined in Japan for under-reporting earnings sent to Ireland‘. So when we read “The Tokyo Regional Taxation Bureau determined that the unit, which sends part of its profits earned from fees paid by subscribers in Japan to another Apple unit in Ireland to pay for software licensing, had not been paying a withholding tax on those earnings in Japan, according to broadcaster NHK“, I just wonder who the Tax Auditor was here.

Now I am not out to make Apple the bad guy, even though they screwed me over twice! What is important is that through all the presentations and all the boasting and ego based actions, there are now 4 groups in play all trying to get Brussels to back down on a legal verdict. We need to wait the appeal on this, yet should this remain and if the US makes noise we will have clear evidence that the EU is no longer something with validity, even stronger, these events are clear signals that the TTIP is an even worse idea than initially thought of in opposition. The one sidedness aside, the fact that American business has basically become the corporate ‘bully’, we need to reassess the situation and remain clear on where our priorities are. I personally remain with the belief as I always have that the Commonwealth nations need to stick together. In these times we now see the Democratic Party under leadership of President Obama do the following “The Obama administration on Thursday took action to limit the use of foreign tax credits by American multinational companies to reduce their U.S. tax bills, a move that followed an EU order that Apple pay back taxes to Ireland“, which I think is not a bad idea. You see, Apple et al might claim how they are so investing everywhere, but that is only done (as I personally see it) to avoid paying tax in America. It is one of the massive reasons why America is so deep in debt (apart from their impossibility to manage a budget) and something has to give. If those tax dollars are used to lower that debt then I would state: “Barack, you legend you, well done!“, because an America with low debt (read: no debt), would be again the superpower it once was and currently pretends to be.

In the end, nations that have a minimal debt, these nations get to decide for themselves, not having their actions overruled by financial institutions or Large Corporation, or by Randall L. Stephenson for that matter. Yes, we can see that those moves will have impact all over Europe and not in a nice way, but that is part of the game. You cannot have it both ways that was never a reality to begin with. Now they only need to fix the holes that Mario Draghi has in his hands and we are possibly perhaps on route to get something sorted.

Yet there is one part we need to get back to and that is the verdict. You see, what is in play here is the statement “an agreement allowing Apple to pay a maximum tax rate of just 1%. In 2014, the tech firm paid tax at 0.005%. The usual rate of corporation tax in Ireland is 12.5%“, this implies that Apple didn’t just get preferential treatment, all the other players were discriminated against. When we see the parts we had already known for a long time, the fact that “Ireland’s tax arrangements with Apple between 1991 and 2015 had allowed the US company to attribute sales to a “head office” that only existed on paper and could not have generated such profits“, which was a given and the result we saw on a global scale “Apple avoided tax on almost all the profit generated from its multibillion-euro sales of iPhones and other products across the EU’s single market. It booked the profits in Ireland rather than the country in which the product was sold“, gives way that a single market is perhaps not the best solution for all but one nation and in addition to this we must realise that the solution I mentioned 5 years ago to set the tax laws that taxation should be set into the nation of the buying consumers physical location could have avoided this and many other issues. A simple taxation change that made all the difference, yet it seems that no one in legislation in those nations as well as those political players ever considered changing that simple law that could have made all the difference.

You see, as the Guardian by-line offers, this case could have another escalation soon enough “Charlie Harrington, 53, a paramedic in Cork, expressed frustration that the Irish government penalized small taxpayers but seemed ready to protect Apple“, which is exactly how millions feel in both France and Italy. If this tax case caves and Apple ends up not being due this invoice, the jump to anti-EU sentiments will go up massively and very fast so. At that point President Obama will only have himself to thank for the mess he started to create when he went 180 degrees on the corporate tax issues discussed in the ‘The Hague Summit of 2013’. That was the first step that could have avoided a few things, this case being one of them.

Cause and Effect

The question becomes ‘What will happen now?’ This is something not easily answered. At present Apple has a few other issues knocking at its door and the iPhone 7 is one of them. The population at large is less money blessed, so paying $1295 for a new phone that according to Forbes is “Purchasing the iPhone 7 this morning from my local Apple Store I found a device that is remarkably similar to last year’s iPhone 6S and the iPhone 6 from 2014. The external design cues remain, the chips inside are faster, and iOS 10 is more polished but is fundamentally the same operating system. Nothing ‘feels’ news even though the package is professional and projects a revolution that is hard to find“, this is at the heart of the matter. Trying to create waves by limiting the system, whilst overall the system is still the same is an issue and at nearly $1300 a very expensive one. That whilst Android competitors are coming into the field with comparable devices, including a headphone jack at 50%-60% of the price of the iPhone 7 and the world is starting to consider the non-IOS alternative. What Apple should fear is not just the market they are losing, the dangers that people could, in regard to the tax pressures they have and the pressure that Apple seems to be able to avoid, is one that could make them feel frustrated and vindictive. The idea that a person could think ‘If the need not pay taxation, they do not need my business either is not that far a stretch‘. People are starting to see the ethical imbalance that large corporations have impressed upon nations and in Europe where the quality of life is not that great at present, seeking the much cheaper alternative that Huawei and LG are offering is one worth considering. That could bring considerable consequences for Apple soon enough. Now I am not stating that the iPhone 7 will be a flop, but for Apple in this stage, should they lose even as little as a 2% market share, the consequence for apple will be intense to state the least. In addition, the fact that the iPad has remained a success for so long could equally be the next problem child for Apple. In that regard releasing the iPad Pro was a really good idea, yet the tablet contenders are starting to realise what it takes to be a contender and if that knowledge is applied properly, there too non-IOS devices (read: android) could start to make a killing and as such undermine that market Apple has at present. The origin is not the device makers, but Google. As Google has been pushing ‘the year of mobile’ for two years, the shift of usage is also growing. There is a growing visibility that at times the mobile screen does not cut it and it gives more and more opportunity to both Phablet and Tablet. These are all examples showing quite clearly that there is no status quo to rely on and the temporary nature of devices shows that Apple needs to really push forward in an innovative way, preferably before the makers of tablets realise that an affordable 128 GB version of an Android tablet is every bit as appealing as the iPad Pro, especially when the Android version could be a lot less than the IOS edition. With Android having its own set of quality games, Apple has more to lose than they are willing to admit to and time is slowly running out for their streak of ignorance to continue. However, it is important to note that Apple has been pretty super innovative with the iPad pro, so there is still a gap to overcome for the competitors. In that regard it is equally interesting that the Android device market have ignored that side of the consumer’s need (read: desire). In all this, it was about taxation and not on markets. Yet one is linked to the other, mainly because if there is no market there is in equal measure no taxable revenue, which gets us to the final part. You see, I have written about these issues before in one form or another and now we see that the Wall Street Journal is finally waking up to this (at http://www.wsj.com/articles/lew-is-right-on-eu-tax-grab-but-lacks-credibility-1473962171), when we read “The Obama administration has had 92 months to tackle corporate tax reform. Now that Europe is making a grab for taxes on profits held by U.S. companies overseas, President Obama is ready to use his last few months in office to address tax issues that were ignored or made worse under his watch“, my response is that neither was done, as stated in earlier blogs in April 2016, when I wrote ‘Ignoranus Totalicus‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2016/04/24/ignoranus-totalicus), he refused to act (as voiced by “Senior officials in Washington have made it known“), so the non-actions are now back firing as event are now escalated. Another iteration of status quo.

What now?

This now all related to the issue at hand. IT corporations decided to maximise their profit by a consumer iterative annual approach of products. The IT market in the US nearly collapsed as it allowed for what was once regarded as a Taiwan Clone (a cheap alternative) to a quality A-brand to catch up. This is the problem with iterative thinking, when you are not in a niche market like Northrop Grumman (who at one stage actually there software patches ‘Iteration version’ I believe), you allow the market to catch up with you. ASUS caught up so and soon thereafter surpassed the original market owners. This lesson was not learned and the Telecom market decided that the profit was good in this way. So, please feel free to correct me. What happened to Ericsson and Nokia? Apple came and overwhelmed everyone and instead of truly remaining innovative, they started to largely iterate their device and called it innovation, now that LG, Samsung and Huawei have caught on and pretty much caught up, they are now offering equal, if not better options at lower prices. So how long will it take Apple to learn that status quo is merely an illusion? I reckon will see that revelation close after Christmas, after the annual sales are gone (and they will be improbable but not impossible a bit disappointing this year).

I reckon we will know in about 15-19 weeks!

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S&M or S&H?

That is the question that should be on the minds of people everywhere! You see Self-interest and Misinformation is every bit a tool of application in the Sade-Masochistic approach that politicians use, or if we use names it would be the dialogue between Alexis Tsipras and Jean-Claude Juncker where Tsipras voices: “You wash my back, I wash yours real hard!” So as we see in the Guardian the call for ‘Sanity and Humanity‘ we must ask the clear ‘why?’ part. You see, we are now getting ‘misinformed’ by laureates and by people in the industry of high economics. They most likely want their cushy job to continue. If Greece falters that is no longer an option, because the repercussions go a lot further than Greece, even the US is now getting involved because the fallout from Greece leaving is a lot more than the people are told.

First Premise: If my thoughts were wrong, then why not let Greece out of the Euro, let it float its Drachma and slowly get back on the horse? Because virtual or not, the fallout of half a trillion whilst Italy and France are so deep in debt is a massive problem!

The names calling for this are: Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz, star French economist Thomas Piketty, former Italian PM Massimo D’Alema, and America’s Jamie Galbraith. The list has more names, but you’ll have to get to the Financial Times for that.

You see, the premise of Humanity is nice (and I am all for Humanity), but when the person involved REFUSES to take decent steps towards the solution, the sanity part is to just cut them lose, but as I stated in my first premise, that is not an option, the negative consequences are scaring too many ‘profiteers’ as I see them!

The first untruth by these writers (bleeding hearts seem to be the most apt title). We see the quote: “Six months on, we are dismayed that austerity is undermining Syriza’s key reforms, on which EU leaders should surely have been collaborating with the Greek government: most notably to overcome tax evasion and corruption“. I would call this a lie of the first order! Why am I calling it that loud?

The Greek government has done close to nothing to overcome tax evasion and corruption! Which politicians from former administrations have been arrested and are investigated for squandering government funds? We saw one case of tax evasion for 1.2 million, which is 0.000028436% of the debt, it does not even cover the smallest part of the interest bill.

The next statement is: “Austerity drastically reduces revenue from tax reform, and restricts the space for change to make public administration accountable and socially efficient” the second expression of laughter! Greece has next to nothing in revenue from taxation, let alone revenue from tax reforms, in addition public administration is not holding anyone accountable, the Greek public administration is a joke no one wants to touch (let alone the Greeks), so the claim made here is nothing more than an empty sentence.

Now we get to an interesting part: “It is wrong to ask Greece to commit itself to an old programme that has demonstrably failed, been rejected by Greek voters, and which large numbers of economists (including ourselves) believe was misguided from the start“. Well, if it was misguided, then the ‘friends’ you have in Goldman Sachs and other financial pool party’s should not have borrowed them the money to begin with! There is no doubt that Syriza has a bad deal, but they wanted the bad deal! They wanted to govern at the expense of everything and everyone! New Democracy under Antonis Samaras was actually trying to sort things out. In addition, the Greek voters do not get to reject this. They voted the people in that spend the money with zero foresight or consideration of the consequences, the Greek people now get to pay for it all. You see, someone spend over 400 billion, it went somewhere. That part is due and the loans made afterwards to get things ‘rolling’ was never realistic, but the top economists were all eager to get the kickbacks that they refer to as consultancy and commission! When a bank allows for events THIS STUPID to get out of proportions, in the end, I do not deny that Tsipras and Varoufakis are playing a clever game. They are willing to let the ‘other’ players collapse. It is a ‘pay our debt or else’ approach. It is not acceptable! And I reckon it should not be tolerated on this level.

What would be acceptable, if the entire debt is paid for by banks, monitored by oversight commissions to ensure that the people (their consumers) never get any additional charges! That banks would need to come up with the money from their own profits and dividends. That I would find acceptable, but guess what? The ‘friends’ of those who signed this letter will not accept that and they will reject that in a heartbeat, so here we see Joseph Stiglitz, Thomas Piketty, et al all writing about humanity, when it should be about accountability!

Now we get the half-truth in all this “Clearly a revised, longer-term agreement with the creditor institutions is necessary: otherwise default is inevitable, imposing great risks on the economies of Europe and the world, and even for the European project that the Eurozone was supposed to strengthen“, is that so?

My second premise: Yes there will be risks, but the one I see is a more total collapse when the debt is shouldered by those already in too deep. That part is not mentioned and moreover that risk has been trivialised by several players all over the Eurozone field, including by the top of the IMF and a few top players in the US too.

And I reckon that the quote “Syriza is the only hope for legitimacy in Greece” can be discarded out of hand, they actually escalated it all, in all this, as I see it, New Democracy was the true hope for Greece.

Now we get a quote that is truly a worry “Consider, on the other hand, a rapid move to a positive programme for recovery in Greece (and in the EU as a whole), using the massive financial strength of the Eurozone to promote investment, rescuing young Europeans from mass unemployment with measures that would increase employment today and growth in the future“.

My third premise: First of all, this is not the first time that approach is used, Adolf Hitler used it in 1935; how did THAT turn out? Now, let’s not go all Nazi on this and consider the issues in Spain, Italy and France? Do you have solutions for them too? How would you like to voice this in reality? That is the problem, you see, jobs come from places that have income, that have product and that is selling, that allows for hiring and paying staff! This is the entire issue, there are no jobs, because people are not buying, because after the cost of living there is not enough money to spend.

It is not a math issue that requires a Nobel price, a mere abacus, or just common sense, paper and pen could have worked that out! In addition, the prediction I made in my article ‘An Olympic steeplechase‘ on May 26th 2015 (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2015/05/26/an-olympic-steeplechase/), two days later Deutche Welle publishes this “‘We’ve been receiving reports of a decline in bookings, especially from Germany’, says the tourism manager to DW“. I saw the writing on THAT wall! In addition there is “Andreadis quotes the latest statistics from the German Society for Consumer Research (GfK): Bookings in Germany have declined by 2 percent based on annual figures“, two percent does not seem that much, but in an economy where the Greek GDP is making another step towards 0 and lower, 2% is a lot. The issues with refugees isn’t helping Greece either. The British media reported that Kos, a Greek tourist attractor has become a ‘disgusting hellhole’, which would push tourism down further. Influx from both Russia and Scandinavia is down too, but at present unknown by exactly how much. It basically means that tourism will not bring the bacon to the outstanding invoices for Greece, apart from collecting the taxation on it all that is.

The final misrepresentation is “Like the Marshall plan, let it be one of hope not despair“, it is a misrepresentation, because the Marshall plan did the right thing, whilst the people did their part, the governments were in better control, within the Euro at present not one government has been holding pace with the expenditure and keeping a proper budget, which gets trivialised by those administering it and the extra spending is overstretched again and again.

My fourth premise: So this is not about Mr Marshall and his amazing achievement, this is about the Greek government actually doing something. Pushing the invoice out 30 days is not a solution. In addition to that, nearly every person and toddler can see that the 7 billion that is supposed to be freed up will after paying the civil servants their 2.2 billion in outstanding parts will not even cover all the bills until the end of the year and whilst Greek taxation is not being addressed, another interest invoice of 22 billion will be due in under 10 months. Yes, 22 billion just for the interest payment!

So as we are misdirected by some people hiding behind the fact that IMF payments have been overdue before, the issue here is that Greece is now TWO payments behind, totaling a little over 1 billion, part one due in two weeks! So as the Greeks vow not to leave the Euro, the question will soon become, do they actually have a choice in this, because when payments are not forthcoming, there must be repercussions, the one part Greeks are really good at denying.

I must of course also mention that there is debt restructuring document, which is regarded as being ‘hopeful’. The view comes from Peter Spiegel of the Financial Times and the quote is “The restructuring plan is ambitious, offering ways to reduce the amount of debt held by all four of its public-sector creditors: the European Central Bank, which holds €27bn in Greek bonds purchased starting in 2010; the International Monetary Fund, which is owed about €20bn from bailout loans; individual Eurozone member states, which banded together to make €53bn bilateral loans to Athens as part of its first bailout; and the Eurozone’s bailout fund, the European Financial Stability Facility, which picks up the EU’s €144bn in the current programme“.

The fifth premise: My issue on these document is that they are ALWAYS based on too positive an outlook, which is why they usually fail. In addition, Greece will at least need another 20 billion, that is if the 7.2 billion that they are trying to get their fingers on is already in the given picture, which is not a given at present.

The quote “to get back under 60 per cent of GDP” is just insanely unrealistic. You see, to do that you need to fix expenditure by a lot, the one part the Greeks utterly refused to do, in addition, they just rehired the people they had let go, so expenses are back up too!

As Peter Spiegel (@SpiegelPeter) states: “It also involves eliminating a chunk of Greece’s bailout debt“, which is fine by me as long as the BANKS pay for that part, if it comes from Goldman Sachs’s pocket so much the better! Let’s not forget that part of this entire mess was because Goldman Sachs helped Greece mask the actual debt it had (source: Der Spiegel) on February 8th 2010! How much forward momentum did Greece achieve since then (like lowering debt)? NONE!

I will say again that this is all unfair on the Greek people, but they did elect this lot into parliament, as they elected the previous bunches, how about knocking on those doors to get at least some of those funds back (which also lowers debt)?

 

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Questions at this time

I have been fighting with myself in regards to certain issues that have been rising in this day and age. When we look at the definition of treason we see this statement “In law, treason is the crime that covers some of the more extreme acts against one’s sovereign or nation.

The question is not just in regards to a nation as is the case with Edward Snowden, but what about the acts against the people? If we accept the following statement as an acceptable fact “Republicanism is the ideology of governing a society or state as a republic, where the head of state is a representative of the people who hold popular sovereignty rather than the people being subjects of the head of state.

So, if that is true, then should we consider the acts or even the absence of acts that stops dangers to the people as an act of treason? I have written about some of these parts for some time now, as per 5 days ago the guardian is now a little more vocal about it (at http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2013/dec/18/rich-countries-money-laundering-tax-evasion-oecd)

It seems that governments are FINALLY getting on the horse of action (as seen at http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/12/20/us-usa-tax-fatca-idUSBRE9BI13J20131220). Yet it seems that larger tax holes are still in existence in Ireland (at http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/10/15/us-ireland-tax-idUSBRE99E0PD20131015)

So should tax evasion be seen as a form of treason? I am not talking about the people left right and centre trying to find every possible tax hole. I am talking about the large corporations and their boards of directors (at http://www.businessspectator.com.au/article/2013/7/15/social-media/looking-beyond-apples-tax-evasion-tactics). If we accept the quote “Taxed at 0.004 per cent“, then how un-national (or in this case un-American) should these people be regarded? And it goes far beyond that part. This is shown in http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-01-23/yahoo-dell-swell-netherlands-13-trillion-tax-haven.html as we see a glimpse of the size of evasion. It is nice to see that the Netherlands are getting of the tax evasion horse, but consider this article from the Guardian (at http://www.theguardian.com/business/2011/oct/19/tax-avoidance-in-netherlands-becomes-focus-of-campaigners) shows that this horse had a very comfortable 3 years. Simon Goodley and Dan Milmo from The Guardian reported all this in October 2011, if we consider that then the words of President Obama sound even more hollow when we read “President Barack Obama presented a series of proposals in 2009 to curb offshore tax benefits“. Hollow? Yes, because only now at the end of his second reign is he making an effort, making it clear that keeping rich friends near you is all about re-election. So, when the hard times hit in the next term he can point the finger at the Republicans. The idea that we hold large corporation’s tax accountable does not seem such an option for either administration (Democrats and Republicans alike).

So, after all these years, as the US is getting in a financial state more and more desperate actions are finally taken, which in my view is well over half a decade too late. The issue remains, as people are hit harder and harder for taxation, not just in the US, big business seems to escape their share of taxation, giving them a massive advantage. In addition, in what I would call the ‘incestual’ relationship between a board of directors and their ‘ability’ to avoid taxation on a borderline of actual fraud (example HSBC to name but one). The game does change when we read that governments themselves start to offer assistance in this field (at http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/jim-love-canadian-mint-chairman-helped-run-offshore-tax-avoidance-scheme-for-clients-1.2441347)

So, as we go towards Christmas and those high and mighty people do their ‘charity’ thing, then also consider that it is not impossible that they have been paying less taxation (like in +18% less), how very adult adults!

So if you want to cheer for anyone, cheer for that 60+ person, who after getting cut on life, living standards and retirement funds, this person is still doing over 20 hours a week in a community centre getting it all done for the people in their neighbourhood, because that is true charity and one more noble then I could actually muster at present.

If we get back to Republicanism, if it was all about ‘representing the people’ and consider that the fat cats are the chosen few (like 100,000 in a nation of 325,000,000), are these acts of non-accounting a form of treason too? Especially as tax evasion leaves a nation in a state of destitution? America seems to be clear evidence of that as its total debt will be roughly $60,680,485,000,000 on Christmas evening. Still think delaying acts against tax evasion was ever a good idea?

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Taxation Lost, John Milestone

High on a Throne of Royal State, which far outshone the wealth of Ormus and of Ind,
Or where the gorgeous East with richest hand showers on her Kings Barbaric Pearl and Gold,

This is pretty much the beginning of book 2 by John Milton where Satan debates whether another battle should be waged on the recovery of heaven. I would state, that if I was back in his employ at his right side (and no longer medicated), then heaven would no longer exist, such is the folly of man!

In that same light we could see the article that sky News showed today at http://news.sky.com/story/1181132/govt-losing-a-staggering-55bn-a-year-in-taxes. It’s title “Govt Losing A ‘Staggering’ £55bn A Year In Taxes“. It seems nice that someone is waking up, but let us not forget that this is something that had been going on for some time. It is nice to bring up Stemcor at times like these. Especially as this company is in hands of the family of labour MP Margaret Hodge who is chairman of the Public Accounts Committee.

Let’s not forget, before we nail her to some cross, that WE (actually you Britons) enabled all this. She and her family broke no laws. Has there been an abundance of letters to the MP’s of local voters demanding a stop to tax evasion? No there were not!

So it is nice to read in that article the following “PAC chairman Margaret Hodge said: ‘It is staggering that, in one year, the public sector was defrauded of over £20bn and the tax gap rose to £35bn.’” Is it truly so staggering? Her own company paid less than 0.1% in taxation. It boiled down to 14 million pounds over 2.1 billion generated business (as suggested by the Telegraph, which is not the best of sources). The Stemcor website had this to say (http://www.stemcor.com/Response%20to%20further%20allegations%20of%20tax%20avoidance%20in%20the%20UK%20press.aspx).
I can go with that! I accept that turnover is not a sign of profit, the numbers in my mind do not seem to add up, but I lack the data to confirm or deny this, so for now, let’s move on.

This is because the reasoning I hold is in play as we read the next quote “However, the committee said its credibility had been undermined by the ‘poor quality’ of some of the data and the Treasury needed to do more to explain the discrepancies between some of the figures in the WGA and those produced by the Office for National Statistics.

I reckon that the quality of data from some of these sources have been in question for some time. That is a side I do have knowledge on. You see, these views always involve several parties talking (discussing and disagreeing) and in retrospect, when we take a look at the numbers and the data that was needed, we all end up wondering why certain data was never collected. When you play the game in only submitting what was ‘exactly’ asked, we end up looking at three iterations of ‘miscommunication’ and we end up with results that do not help to the degree it should; there is little doubt that certain numbers are not available. So, when we consider the Stemcor answer in regards to their 1% of profit in consideration of turnover versus profit, then we should take a look at a random example.

Let us take a software company. They have a program for sale at $1000. The customer wants it, they need training and they need some assistance (read: consultancy). So a package deal is made. The training and consultancy add to almost $750, so the salesperson makes that $1500 package deal as he gave a 25% discount on the program. Yet, their HQ abroad states that $1000 goes to their HQ and the rest is for the local office (which is $500 at this point). Now, $500 does not pay for all the costs, but for the local office it does not matter, they get paid and they never notice it, the CFO makes it all match and that office has close to 0% profit as the turnover and the costs cancel each other out. So, yes! We understand that some places have little turnover, but how are the costs and the deals managed and registered? At no point any laws were broken, yet when we consider this, tax is still evaded.

This is part of the game that the corporate icons play. It is all legal and no laws are broken. Yet, who benefits from all those millions? I remain on the fence in many cases. I believe that the hard worker should make more, that the innovator deserves to get rich, however we all do have to pay our taxes (even though it hurts in many cases). It is that part that is so lacking. Weirdly enough, the tax office seem to hunt down the little people, whilst chunks of corporate city London (and New York and LA and…) seem to push it all across borders and attend sales conferences in 5 star luxury resorts. Google, Amazon and Apple are the visible players, but that list is long and very distinguished. How about those dozens of software vendors (and companies with such a setup) with offices all over the place? How much gets pushed to other places?

That part needs to be dealt with and it is nice that Margaret Hodge is fighting this battle, yet is she getting it done? This is not about her, but I am questioning the data collectors who should have been on top of this LONG BEFORE Miss Hodge got the visibility. Who is guiding them to collect and sift through the data that is collected? Who decides on the questions that need to be asked? To me, that seems to be the gravy train that many wants to board and no one wants to rock, because those corporate supporters get a taste of the real sweet life. They are not in the limelight, but they get access to the real VIP events, get access to the best schools for their kids and life in the places many only dream of. They are the people behind the curtains. Perhaps MP Hodge needs to take a second look and rip away certain curtains, it might be quite a revealing view and a show the press would love to behold.

 

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