Tuesday, July 08, 2008

International News - July 8

A list of recent news stories of interest. Also see Offshore Watch and the TJN news archive.

Italy's 2007 tax evasion falls to 100.1 billion euros vs 115.0 billion - study
July 4 (Thomson Financial) - Italy's tax evasion fell to 100.1 billion euros in 2007, from 115.0 billion a year earlier, said Il Sole 24 Ore, based on its analysis of Istat statistical office data on the black economy. The largest area was in social contributions where 37.1 billion euros was lost, followed by 27.6 billion in personal income tax, and 14.7 billion from value added tax, it said.

Brazil: Governo amplia conceito de paraíso fiscal
June 27 (Meujornal) - The new Brazilian law shows that Brazil is becoming more sophisticated. Brazil will now apply higher withholding tax rates and special transfer pricing rules on payments to recipients to include jurisdictions where there is lack of information as to the "partners"/shareholders of a legal entity – these are in effect taxed as if such recipients were located in zero or low tax jurisdictions. (Google translation from Portuguese.)

More 'diligent' auditing required to halt bribery
and http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/cbb8a52c-4bc0-11dd-a490-000077b07658.html
July 7 (Accountancy Age) - Global Witness said auditors should sift ‘more diligently’ through company accounts to root out bribery by UK companies overseas, in response to proposals being considered by the UK Serious Fraud Office that companies could cut deals to admit bribery in return lighter sentences. “We also need a crackdown on offshore tax havens.

UBS Liechtenstein Adviser Had Scandal-Tainted Clients (Update2)
July 7 (Bloomberg) -- Mario Staggl, a Liechtenstein investment adviser indicted in a tax-evasion probe of UBS, told German prosecutors he set up companies for a consultant in South Africa who later pleaded guilty to trying to help Libya obtain nuclear bomb-making equipment, and helped manage offshore assets for the family of a London politician.

Tax office chasing Paul Hogan: report
July 4 (ABC) - The Australian Tax Office (ATO) is ramping up its investigation into actor Paul Hogan over alleged tax liabilities. Australian authorities have reportedly enlisted the help of the United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to order three American banks to hand over almost a decade's worth of Hogan's banking records.

CORRUPTION: Norway Turns the Spotlight on Tax Havens
Jul 4 (IPS) - A new commission appointed by Norway will investigate ways of putting a stop to the huge flows of money into tax havens. Tax evasion and corruption are believed to cost poor countries at least 50 billion dollars a year.

JP Morgan red-faced after private client disclosure
July 4 (Wealth Bulletin) - A list giving the names and account details of 200 clients at JP Morgan's private bank in Latin America has emerged in an unprecedented level of disclosure for the sector, which is being targeted by US authorities looking to crack down on tax evasion.

Phil Gramm's UBS Problem
July 7 (Slate) - If the Texas senator and McCain adviser was supposed to keep the Swiss bank out of trouble, he's made a mess of it.

IRS to seek accountants’ help on evasion
July 4 (FT) - The US Internal Revenue Service is to solicit the help of the world’s top accounting firms in its widening effort to clamp down on offshore tax evasion.

G8 attacked for bribery 'failure'
July 5 (FT) - The Group of Eight countries are failing to stamp out corruption and bribery, with damaging implications for trade, business and broader international goals such as tackling poverty, according to Transparency International.

Government loses tax haven court battle
July 4 - The UK government has lost a crucial court battle in its fight to prevent companies using European tax havens after a judge ruled that Vodafone does not have to pay extra corporation tax on a Luxembourg-based subsidiary.

Tax credit set to lift UBS into black
July 4 (Guardian) - A big tax credit is set to save embattled Swiss bank UBS from posting another hefty loss in the second quarter. The news surprised analysts and lifted the shares by more than 4%.

US demands names of UBS customers
July 2 (Times Online) - The US Government moved a step closer yesterday to ripping off the veil of secrecy that for centuries has protected the identity of UBS clients as a federal court took the unprecedented step of demanding that the Swiss bank hand over the names of as many as 20,000 of its customers.

Even the rich admit they have it too easy in unfair tax system
July 1 (TUC.org) - People in every region and age group of the UK, including even the wealthiest households, overwhelmingly say that the tax system is unfair, and that it is too easy for big companies and the rich to get out of paying a fair level of tax, according to a YouGov poll published today (Wednesday) for the Trades Union Congress.

Jersey: costing £500 million in tax evasion to the UK a year, at least
Jersey has published its figures for tax retained under the EU Savings Tax Directive in 2007. The press release they put out is misleading. I thought it would be useful to compare the 2007 data with that for 2006 as an indication of how things are really going. Richard Murphy unpicks the data.

Japan grants tax exemptions
June 30 (FT) - Tokyo's financial authorities have agreed the terms under which investments by offshore funds investing in Japan would be exempt from taxes in a bid to encourage fund managers to do business in Japan.

Beijing to mend loophole in tax evasion of online shops
July 3 (Xinhua) -- The Beijing municipal government announced here Thursday it would require all individuals or vendors doing online businesses to register and pay taxes on their transactions.

'Corruption and climate of fear' in UK's Caribbean territories
July 6 (Guardian) - MPs' committee reports allegations that premier of celebrity hideaway made a fortune from illegal land deals and locals are too afraid to speak.

Udaras na Gaeltachta proposes tax haven status for Irish islands
July 6 (Sunday Business Post) - Ireland’s islands could be transformed into tax havens for businesses and residents under proposals drawn up by Udaras na Gaeltachta, the body charged with promoting the Gaeltacht areas. It has submitted a plan to the Commission on Taxation aimed at injecting new economic life into the islands by offering major tax incentives.

The Angel watching over global finance
July 6 (Observer) - OECD’s Angel Gurria: 'Countries became rather proud of the fact that their banking industry was so creative, so aggressive. They were saying, "Look, they're getting things off their balance sheets."' a loan is a loan is a loan, and therefore you need some reserves against possible losses, depending on the riskiness, some capital to be allocated, etc - were not happening.' Now, he says, it is time for financial regulators to get 'back to basics'.

Finance : que faire face aux paradis fiscaux ?
July 8 (Le Monde) – A long article on tax havens, quoting TJN. In French.

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