The Case for a Financial Transactions Tax

The report argues:

  • A financial transactions tax could likely raise over $105 billion annually (0.6 percent of GDP) based on 2015 trading volume. This estimate is roughly in the middle of recent estimates that ranged from as high as $580 billion to as low as $30 billion.
  • The full amount of this tax would be borne by the financial industry, and not individual holders of stock or pension funds and other institutional investors. Evidence suggests that trading volume is elastic with respect to price, meaning that any drop in trading volume resulting from the tax would reduce costs for end users by a larger amount than the tax would increase them.
  • It is reasonable to believe that the industry would be no less effective in serving its productive use (allocating capital) after the tax is in place. This means that one of the primary effects of the tax would be to reduce waste in the financial sector, reducing costs while having little or no effect on its principal purpose: to allocate capital effectively.
  • The revenue raised through an FTT would easily be large enough to cover the cost of free college tuition (among other social programs), although if nothing were done to stem the growth rate of college costs, it would eventually prove inadequate.

The report also notes that the financial sector is the main source of income for many of the highest earners in the economy. This means that downsizing the industry through an FTT could play an important role in reducing income inequality.

Continue reading

The effects of poverty costs the UK £78bn a year

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) estimates that the impact and cost of poverty accounts for £1 in every £5 spent on public services.

The biggest chunk of the £78bn figure comes from treating health conditions associated with poverty, which amounts to £29bn, while the costs for schools and police are also significant. A further £9bn is linked to the cost of benefits and lost tax revenues. …

The JRF report, called “counting the cost of UK poverty”, estimates that 25% of healthcare spending is associated with treating conditions connected to poverty.
Continue reading

UBI isn’t really about welfare spending: It’s about tax policy. And it is affordable.

This would be a sound argument if it didn’t miss the point. UBI isn’t really about welfare spending: It’s about tax policy.

UBI is an unconditional cash transfer, which means that you get money from the government to spend however you want. That’s an unusual government spending program. In the US, besides Social Security, the government usually either spends money on a service (like health care or education) or gives conditional cash in the form of things like food stamps.

But the government also spends a lot of money each year on cash transfers through “tax expenditures,” which is the money the government doesn’t collect in taxes because of exclusions in the tax code. Except for the Earned Income Tax Credit, those expenditures almost always help the rich more than the poor. By replacing them with UBI, we would create a more progressive system. That, not the elimination of all government programs, should be the starting place for debates about UBI. Continue reading

Tax Justice: Millionaires Less Mobile than the Rest of Us

Stanford University researchers teamed with officials at the Treasury Department to examine every tax return reporting more than $1 million in earnings in at least one year between 1999 and 2011.  They found that while 2.9 percent of the general population moves to a different state in a given year, just 2.4 percent of millionaires do so.  Even more striking is that for the most “persistent millionaires” (those earning over $1 million in at least 8 years of the researchers’ sample), the migration rate is just 1.9 percent per year.  As the researchers explain: “millionaires are not searching for economic opportunity—they have found it.” …

In other words, Florida is only one of the nine states without broad-based income taxes that seems to possess any kind of special allure for high-income taxpayers.  Given that reality, the study notes that “It is difficult to know whether the Florida effect is driven by tax avoidance, unique geography, or some especially appealing combination of the two.”  In any case, this study refutes the notion that repealing state income taxes can transform a state into a magnet for high-income taxpayers: it’s simply not playing out that way in eight of the nine states without such a tax. …

This research, of course, should all but kill the thesis that you just have to cut taxes on rich folk for fear they’ll flee to more hospitable climes. But this thesis is just too convenient for too many wealthy people, and it’s been successfully put out of its misery many times before – then sprung back to life the next time around. This isn’t the last we’ve seen of it.

New Research Shows Millionaires Less Mobile than the Rest of Us
http://www.taxjustice.net/2016/05/27/new-research-shows-millionaires-less-mobile-than-the-rest-of-us/

“Modern corruption has a white face”

But it is peanuts compared to the much bigger sums that are raked in by the lawyers, accountants and other silky advisers who base themselves in the City of London and use Britain’s network of crown dependencies and overseas territories in Jersey, Guernsey, the Caymans and the British Virgin Islands.

Until the UK stops encouraging, advising and facilitating guilty men and women looking to stow their shady cash offshore, corruption will continue to flourish.

Modern corruption is a suit in a Panamanian office, who takes that general’s billions and sends it on to a private bank account, no impertinent questions asked along the way. It is the Mayfair estate agent who sells that multimillion-pound townhouse to an oligarch. It is that accountancy firm in the City that fills out the paperwork structuring the rich man’s affairs so that the money goes through one of their far-flung branch offices to wind up in a trust in the tax-free zones of the Caymans or the British Virgin Islands.
Continue reading

Tax Justice Focus – The Corruption Issue

As Guest Editor David Whyte (How Corrupt is Britain?) comments in his editorial:

“We are overwhelmed by the scale, frequency and variety of corruption cases in Britain, from police manipulation of evidence, to over-charging in out-sourced public contracts, by way of cash-for-access scandals involving prominent politicians and price fixing, market manipulation and fraud in key sectors of the economy.”

TJN has long held the view that Britain is at the forefront of the global supply side of corruption.  Ten years ago TJN’s director John Christensen slammed the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index for corrupting perceptions of corruption, arguing that:

“The elephant in the living room of the corruption debate is the role played by the global infrastructure of banks, legal and accounting businesses, tax havens and related financial intermediaries in providing an offshore interface between the illicit and licit economies.”

Continue reading

American corporations received 27 times more from the governement than they paid in taxes

Oxfam America took a close look at the way large, profitable companies use offshore tax havens and other methods to slash their corporate tax rates in the US rather than pay taxes where the majority of their business takes place.

The report, “Broken at the Top,” found that the 50 largest companies in the US have $1.4 trillion hidden in tax havens while at the same time receiving trillions of dollars in tax payer-funded loans and subsidies. The tax practices of these corporate behemoths cost Americans an estimated $111 billion per year and cost developing countries another $100 billion a year.

Apple, the world’s second-largest company, was the company with the greatest amount stored abroad — $181 billion in three subsidiaries. Next in Oxfam’s league table was General Electric, with $119 billion stored in 118 tax haven subsidiaries, followed by Microsoft which had $108 billion kept overseas. Continue reading