Many a government has promised to simplify and reform their country’s nightmarish tax code, only to fail to deliver before its time is up. But regardless of that fact, when a government fails to deliver, it deserves to be called out. And this week’s villain of the piece is the Philippines, where businesses have once again been imploring the Government to reform the nation’s dysfunctional tax system.
For its part the Government has frequently assured taxpayers that it is committed to tax reform. But commitment and action are not the same thing, and the lack of action is now showing. The Philippines ranked 126th out of 180 countries in PwC’s Paying Taxes Index 2016. This index tells us that companies have to make 36 separate tax payments, a process taking an average of 193 hours per year. What’s more, the Philippines’ … 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 »
In the olden days, taxes were used to raise money, initially to help governments wage wars, then later to fund public services. Taxes still help governments wage war and run public services of course, but they are now much more than mere revenue-raisers. They are an instrument of economic policy, and a symbol of the “social contract” between rulers and the ruled. Thus, governments cut taxes in an attempt to stimulate the economy, and raise them to cool overheating markets. That taxes are typically used also to promote income distribution makes tax policy a political issue.
Now taxes are so politicized, it’s very hard to get rid of one — even when it could be argued that it serves little purpose. And South Korea’s debate about corporate tax highlights the role of corporate tax in particular. To most people it … Read More »
With regard to international trade, it’s currently rather a bad time for supporters of free trade. According to a recent World Trade Organization (WTO) report, between mid-October 2015 and mid-May 2016, G20 nations applied 145 new trade-restrictive measures, or an average of almost 21 new measures a month, up from 17 in the preceding period. This is the highest monthly average of new trade restrictive measures registered since the WTO began its monitoring exercise in 2009. In addition, G20 states initiated 96 anti-dumping investigations in the most recent period for which data is available (June-December 2015), while 80 were initiated during the previous six months.
Nevertheless, there have still been some glimmers of hope for free traders recently. One of them was confirmation by the South African Department of Trade and Industry that tariff-free access to the United States market … Read More »