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 »
As the famous expression, usually attributed to Benjamin Franklin, goes, “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” But what about tax after death? It’s probably safe to assume that in Franklin’s world, death was a blessed relief from tax. However, as it turns out, sometimes the two are not mutually exclusive, at least in the eyes of some tax authorities. In Canada for example, death is no excuse for not filing your tax return, according to the Canada Revenue Agency. Not that you are expected to submit a return from beyond the grave. That would just be silly. No, under Canadian rules this unfortunate task falls to the legal representative of the deceased, as it no doubt does in most jurisdictions.
I suppose by the strict letter of the law, if you shuffle … Read More »
Newly elected Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau has been bedazzling world leaders recently with his good looks and youthful bonhomie. But will the Liberals work similar magic on the Canadian economy with their fiscal plans? I fear not. To its credit, the new Government is delivering on its central tax pledge, to cut income tax for those in the middle and hike tax for those at the top. But one recent study suggests that far from raising extra revenue — money intended to subsidize the middle class tax cut — the plan to shift the tax burden to top earners could actually cost federal and provincial governments. The C D Howe Institute’s Alexandre Laurin, the author of the report, said: “The Liberal election platform said that these changes would be more or less revenue neutral, however we estimate the federal … Read More »
Malta is the smallest economy in the euro zone, yet is has come through the European economic storm in much better shape than many of its more economically powerful fellow member states, and this despite a number of handicaps that might have sunk a country of similar economic stature. For starters, its natural resources are limited, and it imports about 80 percent of its food and most of its energy. Doubtless aware of its economic vulnerabilities, Malta has been very proactive in the area of taxation, introducing various tax incentive schemes to attract foreign investors, including a citizenship for investment program. Indeed, it has sailed pretty close to the wind as far as the EU is concerned, because member states have to be very careful these days not to fall foul of state aid rules and other laws designed to … Read More »