Ever noticed how the bricks on newer British buildings are bigger, or stopped to appreciate hand-stenciled wallpaper, or enjoyed a sip from a fancy hollow-stemmed glass? If so, you may well be admiring a product of regulation and taxes as much aesthetic tastes. From basic materials to entire architectural styles, building codes and taxation strategies have had huge historical impacts on the built world as we know it. Take the capital of France, for instance.
Frack-happy, Trump-supporting North Dakota probably isn’t the first place you would expect to find a working model, but since 1919, the state has used the Bank of North Dakota to finance everything from student loans to sewer upgrades and small business loans. The bank just posted its thirteenth consecutive year of record profits, earning more than $136 million in 2016. And unlike at a big private bank, that money goes right back into investing in the people, rather than into investors’ pockets.
History shows that bad economic ideas almost never die, especially when they serve the wealthy and powerful. There’s no better example of this truth than trickle-down tax cuts. As we write this, the Trump administration is teeing up a tax plan that slashes taxes for the wealthy and the corporate sector, does little for everyone else (repealing the Affordable Care Act actually raises taxes on some with low and moderate incomes), and stiffs the U.S. Treasury to the tune of $6.2 trillion, according to the Tax Policy Center’s estimates.
Billions of dollars are moving out of Canada – nearly all tax free – with 92 tax treaties signed.
“I think those of us who warned, 35 years ago, that one of the consequences of this would be, ‘those who have the most would end up paying the least and those with the least would end up paying the most’ — we’ve been proven right. ”
The Massachusetts Supreme Court will decide whether a local shrine should be tax-exempt—a decision that could have broad implications for faith organizations in America.
The 50 biggest US companies, including global brands such Pfizer, Goldman Sachs, Dow Chemical, Chevron, Walmart, IBM, and Procter & Gamble, have stashed more than a trillion dollars offshore and used more than 1,600 subsidiaries in tax havens to avoid billions of dollars in tax each year, according to Oxfam America. In a new report released today ahead of Tax Day, Oxfam outlines how corporate tax dodging costs the US an estimated $100 billion each year, a gap that the average American taxpayer would have to shell out an extra $760 to cover…..
…..The report reveals that the same companies are among the largest beneficiaries of US taxpayer funded support, receiving a staggering $11 trillion in federal loans, loan guarantees and bailout assistance from 2008-2014 even as they avoided hundreds of billions of dollars in taxes over the same period.
Oxfam calculated that during this period, these 50 companies collectively received approximately $27 in loan support for every $1 they paid in federal taxes.“…..
The companies, which made nearly $4 trillion in profits globally between 2008 and 2014, paid an average effective tax rate of just 26.5% – well below the statutory tax rate of 35% in the US and well below the tax rate of an average US worker of 31.5%…..
“For every $1 spent on lobbying, the largest 50 companies received $130 in tax breaks and more than $4,000 in federal loans, loan guarantees and bailouts,”…..
Looking at the documents leaked from Mossack Fonseca and one thing is clear: Britain’s network is once again at the core. More than half of the companies listed in the documents are registered in the UK or its Overseas Territories, and Hong Kong plays a huge role.
Of course, this shouldn’t be surprising. Britain has for for a while now been thought to be the global capital for money laundering. And it’s no shock that nothing has been done about it. In 2010, two years after they crashed the global economy, the City paid for more than half of the Conservative party’s election campaign, helping (along with the aforementioned Lord Ashcroft) them limp them over the line, with a Lib Dem shaped crotch. Though, of course, Labour did little to regulate in the previous 13 years.
If we want to understand modern Britain, first we need to realise that our primary economic function in the world is probably our network of tax havens. After all, around $21tn is estimated to sit in offshore accounts, of which Britain’s territories are said to make up by far the biggest part. Our own GDP is only around $3tn.
Second, we need to get to grips with the serious claims about our role as the global money laundering capital: a function which pushes up the price of the pound, making other exports unaffordable (bye bye steel), and drives up the cost of houses in London and the South East, fuelling a vast speculative bubble which sucks investment out of the rest of the economy.
And third, we need to think about how this gradually dawning economic reality interacts with our politics: not through the obvious corruption of direct bribery, but through revolving doors between government and civil service, through old boy’s networks and friendship groups, through perfectly legal election donations and media domination.