October2013


Stasis On The Hill

Posted on October 27th, by Global Tax Weekly in Budgets. No Comments

What to say about the failure of the US Congress to reach a substantive agreement on tax and spending reform last week? Of course it’s a failure of the political establishment in general, rather than of the Congress in particular. Acres of verbiage have been devoted to analyses of the relative contributions of all the leading players, from the President downwards, the need to change the Constitution, the gerrymandering that has reduced the effectiveness of the electoral mechanism in both houses, but particularly in the House of Representatives, etcetera, etcetera and so forth. So we won’t go there. Still, from the perspective of business, the whole thing is a disaster: as a destination for investment, the USA is already uncompetitive, and the prospect of endless logjam which now stretches out certainly until January and probably much further will do nothing … Read More »


Decarbonizing Down Under

Posted on October 23rd, by Global Tax Weekly in Carbon Taxes. No Comments

Congratulations, I think, to Tony Abbott’s new Australian Goverment which has gone ahead with publishing its bills to abolish the country’s carbon tax, which was introduced only last year by the outgoing left-wing administration, and not because I am in favor of global warming, although it will improve the climate in Northen Europe, but because taxing large polluters is not an effective way of tackling the problem, as the European Union is finding out with its Emissions Trading Scheme, which is on life support and will likely collapse altogether. Like “ticket” taxes, most carbon taxes are convenient ways for governments to extract money from large companies under the hypocritical pretence of doing good. In Australia’s case, the money was used as a pre-electoral bribe (it didn’t work). So how should we control emissions? It doesn’t seem to be a very … Read More »


Free On Board

Posted on October 20th, by Global Tax Weekly in Travel. No Comments

We should give Ireland (Eire, that is) a bouquet for dropping its air travel tax, although it’s possible that the credit really belongs to RyanAir and the European Commission (in very unequal proportions). It’s like free will: when a human being does something, you can usually prove that they did it in response to external or historical causes. But at the end of the day, they still have to take the action themselves. So, RyanAir may have threatened to remove untold numbers of flights and flight attendants (who would go to live in Warsaw, instead); and the EU may have disallowed the really juicy parts of the ticket tax. But eventually the Government has to act, and it has. Unlike some other governments, which persist in levying this most illogical and destructive of all taxes, notably the UK. We have … Read More »


The Tortoise And The Hare

Posted on October 16th, by Global Tax Weekly in E-commerce. No Comments

For the European countries which used to make some or all of their living from being “low-tax,” which does of course include Switzerland, the EU has always been the elephant in the room, and if Switzerland may by now regret having been ambivalent towards the EU, some other countries which threw in their lot more whole-heartedly with the EU have met with unexpected outcomes. In the case of Cyprus, the initial EU-induced boom has turned to ashes in its mouth; but Malta seems to have gotten everything right, and is carefully building itself into a diversified financial services and e-commerce centre. Its latest wheeze is to create a secondary stock market designed to attract smaller, more entrepreneurial companies; technically it will be known as a Multilateral Trading Facility under the country’s investment legislation. Jersey and Guernsey have shown what can … Read More »


Who’d Be Switzerland?

Posted on October 14th, by Global Tax Weekly in Banking, Offshore. No Comments

Let’s suppose that one (you, that is, or me) was offered to be Prime Minister of a European country (and for this purpose we won’t count Russia as being European in the light of President Putin’s recent behavior) – which one would you choose? Obviously it won’t be Ukraine, because you’ll end up in prison, or Italy, because you’ll hardly be in the job long enough to get to know your chauffeur. I would probably choose somewhere civilized like Denmark, although the climate is not very nice, or perhaps Malta, where the climate is indeed very nice. But third on the list of countries I wouldn’t choose must surely be Switzerland, where the thankless job of leading the country involves a battle on at least three fronts, your external challenges coming from the USA and the European Union, and your … Read More »





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