How exactly do you solve a problem like Greece? Well, all I can say is, I’m glad I’m not the one who has to try! It does seem fairly obvious though that part of the problem is that Greece doesn’t collect enough tax.
Now, I’m all for low taxation of course. And I think raising rates of tax in Greece will, for the most part, be counterproductive. Because not only will this endanger the nascent economic recovery, but probably encourage yet more tax avoidance and evasion in a country that seems to have transformed tax dodging into an art form – the amount of tax evaded each year in Greece can be as much as 14 percent of gross domestic product, according to EY.
What seems to be the root of the problem is a narrow tax base and relatively high tax rates. If … Read More »
Problems with outdated tax laws certainly are widespread and the United States is just one example of a place where work patterns have left tax rules well and truly behind – in the haze of a car’s tailpipe or the wake of airplane’s contrail, you could say. Because, unbelievably, we are still in a situation where employees may be legally required to file an income tax return in every state in which they have conducted business, even if they were there for only one day. Surely the costs of administering such absurd rules routinely outweigh the amount of tax – if any – that is collected from mobile employees!
But thankfully sanity may soon prevail. A bill has been reintroduced into Congress to standardize state income tax requirements for employees working out of their state of residence, and the measure has wide bipartisan … Read More »
I can understand the arguments in favor of taxing America’s Olympic athletes. After all, we are talking about men and women who are highly rewarded for their endeavors through such things as sponsorship and product endorsements, aren’t we? Why should they get a tax break? Few other Americans, taxed as they are on their worldwide earnings, would. And anyway, isn’t the Olympics about the joy of participation in sport, rather than the money you get for participating?
Well, actually, no, not really. Aside from the fact that the amateur ethos that embodied the Olympic spirit has long since departed down the track, it’s a generalization, to say the least, to assume that every single member of the 558-string Team USA at the Rio Olympics is rolling in cash.
Yes, one would expect the higher end of the Olympic pay league table to be … Read More »
If dealing with one tax administration isn’t bad enough, try the United States, where of course tax doesn’t stop at federal level because there are 50 states also waiting to ensnare unwitting taxpayers. Large companies operating across national and sub-national boundaries are largely able to cope with corporate tax compliance issues by employing teams of tax experts to figure out what the firm’s tax obligations are and the best ways to fulfill them. However, for individual mobile workers, this issue can be very daunting and can even stretch the mental resources of companies that employ them. As the National Association of Manufacturers recently observed, the “increasingly mobile workforce is subject to an ever-changing hodgepodge of state tax laws, creating a compliance and fiscal nightmare for both companies and their employees on temporary assignments to other states.”
And if this problem currently … Read More »
The United States Internal Revenue Service is more often vilified than it is complimented. So when it does receive a rare piece of praise, it is worth pointing out. Apparently, the agency had a pretty good 2016 filing season, according to the mid-year report delivered to Congress by National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson on July 7. As you’d expect, though, there is considerable room for improvement; reportedly, more than 25 percent of telephone enquiries to the IRS still go unanswered, many taxpayers remain baffled by a nightmarish tax code, and rates of fraud and error are still unacceptably high.
However, in the IRS’s defense, it doesn’t make the rules, Congress does; nor, most likely, does it ask to do more with less. But Congress and the Administration routinely demand this, in the knowledge that the agency’s ever-expanding remit is stretching it … Read More »
On a slightly upbeat note, congratulations go to Italy’s taxpayers for celebrating “tax freedom day” a little earlier this year. For those unfamiliar with the concept, tax freedom day is the theoretical day in the year when you stop working to pay the government, and start keeping what you earn for yourself. And in that sense, I suppose it is a good indicator of just how much of a country’s income is taxed in one form or another.
Although most Americans are heard to grumble about their taxes, in the United States tax freedom day normally arrives well before summer (in the northern hemisphere), usually towards the end of April. But if you think things in Italy are bad, try living in Belgium, where, shockingly, last year you had to work into August before pocketing your own money! For Italy … Read More »
UK Chancellor George Osborne received quite a bit of criticism for his decision to slash the rate of CGT in his most recent budget in March. This is because it was perceived by his opponents as a tax cut for the rich, as it will largely benefit those wealthy enough to invest and to have built up a company. That may be true, but surely the corollary to that is a high rate of capital gains tax will discourage people from investing and building up companies? And what’s the sense in that when economic times are already uncertain? The UK’s business leaders certainly seem to think this was the right move at any rate, with almost 80 percent telling a recent survey that investing in small companies in the UK would be more attractive as a result of the new … Read More »
It’s difficult to know where to begin with the Panama Papers affair. Predictably, most people have latched on to the “us and them” angle – how the rich, powerful, and well-connected get to live by a different set of rules from those who pay tax in full. The world does seem like a very unfair place sometimes. But it’s difficult also not to highlight the hypocrisy of some of the world’s leading politicians, who seem to rule by the mantra of “do what I say, not what I do.”
That being said, it might be an unpopular thing to say, but the massive irony about all this is that the vast majority of people named in the Panama Papers probably have done nothing illegal. Yet nobody has drawn attention to the crime that was committed to create this exposé in … Read More »
It is possible to have sympathy for governments on occasion; there seem to be instances when they just can’t win. They’re constantly being told by the likes of the OECD and the IMF to eradicate special tax regimes, widen their tax bases, reduce income taxes where possible, and shift the tax burden onto consumption. Luxembourg is one country doing just that. Last year, the Government decided to phase out its patent box regime – exactly the sort of special tax regime the OECD sees as largely responsible for BEPS – and late last month it announced reductions in income tax for companies and low- and middle-income workers. These measures come after a 2 percent increase in the standard rate of value-added tax in 2015. Yet, according to the IMF, this is still wrong – the tax cuts are viewed as … Read More »
In South Africa it’s only a month since the Government finally enacted legislation giving effect to measures announced in the 2015 Budget, and already the 2016 Budget announcement has come and gone. Often, when trying to track the progress of a particular tax announcement, you might find that that the initial budget legislation has been split into two or more separate bills, some of which might have been put out to consultation, others fast-tracked through the assembly, or shunted into the siding for consideration at some ill-defined later date. The South African law-making progress feels a bit like this sometimes. However, it’s not the finer points of parliamentary procedure in South Africa that bear close examination here, but the 2016 Budget itself. It raises taxes, by about the equivalent of USD3.25bn over the next three years, and doesn’t cut appear … Read More »