Tax Analysts®Tax Analysts®

My Subscriptions:

Robert Goulder

Former Editor in Chief of Tax Analysts' international publications

 

All Posts by Robert Goulder

March 8, 2013 - 10:33 AM EST
Taxation & Morality: Odd Bedfellows
There is a public opinion poll for just about everything these days. I recently stumbled across a U.K. poll on corporate taxes and morality. Here we have two subjects that don't necessarily seem connected ... or are they? In the survey 66% of respondents said tax avoidance was immoral. The poll wa... [Read More]
March 5, 2013 - 9:05 AM EST
Will EITI Kill Transfer Pricing?
Sometimes big things have small beginnings. Back in 2010 Congress approved the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act, which included a two-page addendum known as the Cardin-Lugar Amendment (section 1504 of Dodd-Frank). Strictly speaking, the amendment is not a tax law. It's not contained in the Interna... [Read More]
March 1, 2013 - 12:01 PM EST
Questioning the Longevity of the Income Tax
The federal income tax turns 100 years old this year. Landmark anniversaries are useful occasions for both reflection and critical analysis. It was in that spirit that Tax Analysts recently convened a policy forum at the National Press Club which openly questioned the income tax's future role as ou... [Read More]
February 26, 2013 - 8:50 AM EST
Cap-and-Trade or Carbon Tax?
If you saw the SOTU address earlier this month, you heard President Obama renew his plea for a 'market based' solution to our climate change crisis. That comment triggered a heated policy discussion among my environmentalist friends. What does a tax guy say when folks ask about the cap-and-trade (C... [Read More]
February 22, 2013 - 8:30 AM EST
Berlusconi & The Lure of Tax Refunds
It seems that Italy's Silvio Berlusconi is perpetually under criminal investigation for assorted malfeasence. Over the years, the litany of accusations against him has included tax evasion, bribery, perjury, obstruction of justice, jury tampering, and paying for sex with an under-age female known a... [Read More]
February 19, 2013 - 8:55 AM EST
Tax Havens: The Second Crusade
If the cover of this week's edition of The Economist is to be believed, there are about 50 tax havens around the world that have soaked up an estimated $20 trillion in concealed private wealth. The magazine's cover photo includes images of a sandy beach, palm trees, and a grinning solitaire figure... [Read More]
February 15, 2013 - 1:32 PM EST
Jack Lew, the Cayman Islands & FATCA
The departing Secretary of the Treasury, Timothy Geithner, had a tax problem stemming from his employment at the International Monetary Fund. As you may recall, he forgot to pay those pesky social security and Medicare taxes. The incident was a major embarrassment, but it did not disqualify him fro... [Read More]
February 12, 2013 - 9:03 AM EST
La Bella Italia: Fast Cars & Loose Taxes
Ever dream of driving a $200,000 Ferrari around the Amalfi coast? Me too. But ask an Italian taxpayer and their response might include a warning — be careful what you wish for! That's due to the Italian government's bold new tactic for reducing the country's tax gap. The tactic has a name, reddito... [Read More]
February 8, 2013 - 12:51 PM EST
Sex, Lawsuits & Taxes
It's Friday afternoon and we're catering to the prurient interests. I apologize in advance. A CBS news affiliate is reporting that an Oregon man has filed a lawsuit against the federal government claiming he was forced to have sexual relations with an IRS agent against his will. We're not making th... [Read More]
February 5, 2013 - 8:41 AM EST
Et Tu, Sarkozy?
How would you feel about a former U.S. president leaving the country to run a highly profitable business on foreign soil? Let's say it's an actual change in long-term residence, not just a temporary sojourn. Would your response differ if the motivation for the departure was tax minimization? The Fr... [Read More]
February 1, 2013 - 1:06 PM EST
The Devil Wears Prada, But Does Her Boyfriend Pay Taxes?
Cinema aficionados will remember that characters from the popular 2006 film, The Devil Wears Prada, were inspired by actual people. Meryl Streep's portrayal of a sassy fashionista was based on Anna Wintour, the editor-in-chief of Vogue magazine. Wintour is a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in... [Read More]
January 29, 2013 - 8:48 AM EST
French Budget Minister Caught In Tax Probe
Like other nations, France is cracking down on offshore tax evasion. The policy makes a lot of sense. Rather than raise taxes on people or introduce new taxes, would it not be preferable to collect all the taxes that are already due and owing under current law? One bump along the road is that you c... [Read More]
January 25, 2013 - 12:45 PM EST
The Pepperdine Papers: Advice for Obama's Second Term
Last week, the Pepperdine Law Review hosted a unique policy forum: Tax Advice for the Second Obama Administration. The event was organized by Professor Paul Caron and cosponsored by Tax Analysts. Three of the featured papers addressed international reforms and are highlighted below. You can read a... [Read More]
January 22, 2013 - 10:44 AM EST
Of Trends and Mega Trends
Many tax reform advocates point to the United Kingdom as a source of inspiration. We often hear that Congress should emulate our British cousins when it comes to taxing corporate income. This argument is worth exploring. Several developments stand out when we scrutinize recent U.K. tax reforms: (1)... [Read More]
January 15, 2013 - 8:38 AM EST
Taxes & Corruption: Another Greek Tragedy
If I were a Greek taxpayer I would be mad as hell. The country's latest scandal suggests that elites receive a pass when it comes to tax evasion, while those lacking access to the inner circles of power and influence are expected not only to endure the brunt of austerity but also to pay the nation'... [Read More]
January 8, 2013 - 8:00 AM EST
Can You Distinguish a Tax from a Ransom Payment?
This weekend I noticed the following blurb on the BBC web site. Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO of the global advertising group WWP, said the amount of tax a multinational enterprise should pay is "a matter of judgment" as opposed to a matter of law. Thus we observe the CEO of a major international busines... [Read More]
January 3, 2013 - 9:02 AM EST
The Unspoken Tax Expenditure
There's a lot of talk in Washington about scaling back tax expenditures for the sake of lowering marginal rates — or preventing future rate increases. Most economists agree that lowering rates, while broadening the base, is the gold standard for tax reform. This explains the chatter about eliminat... [Read More]
December 28, 2012 - 8:18 AM EST
Gérard Depardieu: Tax Exile
A popular axiom suggests that governments lightly tax that which is mobile and more heavily tax that which is immobile. Such a design is thought to enhance the competitiveness of a country's fiscal environment, meaning taxable entities (and those whom invest in them) are less likely to flee for gre... [Read More]
December 18, 2012 - 9:41 AM EST
Starbucks Pays More Tax Than It Owes
Is it possible for a multinational corporation to be too good at tax planning? Recent events suggest the answer is yes. Starbucks' British subsidiary has promised to contribute £20 million to the UK tax authorities during 2013 and 2014. We say "contribute" because the proposed transfer of funds is... [Read More]
December 11, 2012 - 8:16 AM EST
Timeless Tax Policy & The Other Colbert
Congress will soon be forced to contemplate fundamental tax reform. To stimulate their intellectual juices, we thought we'd do something useful -- like turn our attention to Jean-Baptiste Colbert. No relation (that we know of) to Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert. Students of history will recognize... [Read More]
December 4, 2012 - 9:01 AM EST
France Struggles to Tax Corporate Profits
Some American cultural exports were big hits in France. Think blue jeans and jazz man Louis Armstrong. Even screwball comedian Jerry Lewis was famously adored by the French. Today, the dominant U.S. cultural exports are high-tech firms from Silicon Valley. But these multinational corporations are n... [Read More]
November 27, 2012 - 9:52 AM EST
Tax Dodger Alert: Your Friend in the Senate
Rand Paul is an energetic young Senator with a bright political future. Like his father, GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul, he is a staunch Libertarian who defends small government and low taxes. These are legitimate objectives supported by millions of Americans. But Paul has displayed poor judgm... [Read More]
March 23, 2012 - 12:47 PM EDT
Soak the Rich, GOP-style
How badly do some Republicans want a balanced budget requirement? So much that they're willing to sacrifice one of their party's signature issues in exchange for it. Namely, a tax hike on the super rich. Here are the details. Rick Crawford (R-Arkansas) is a freshman House member who thinks America'... [Read More]
March 14, 2012 - 12:29 PM EDT
A Benchmark for Socialist Tax Rates
You've heard it a thousand times. President Obama wants to continue the Bush-era tax cuts for households with taxable incomes under $250,000 a year, while allowing those cuts to expire for wealthier taxpayers. Were that to occur, the 33% bracket would increase to 36%, and the 35% bracket (currently... [Read More]
March 5, 2012 - 7:32 PM EST
A Safe Harbor for Deferral?
President Obama's proposed minimum tax on offshore profits remains the talk of the town. That tells you something about the nerdy crowd I hang out with. (Until recently I thought glee was the emotion one feels when contemplating capital export neutrality. Turns out it's a TV show). But back to taxe... [Read More]
February 29, 2012 - 5:18 PM EST
Obama's Corporate Minimum Tax
President Obama has given us his framework for corporate tax reform. There's much talk about his proposed minimum tax on offshore profits. The framework is thin on details, but we're able to provide the following preview of how the tax might operate. The minimum tax would take the form of a low-tax... [Read More]
February 22, 2012 - 5:18 PM EST
Obama's Rate Cut: How Low Can You Go?
President Obama's newly released 'framework' for corporate tax reform envisions a significant rate cut for U.S. firms. You can read the details by clicking here. His basic idea is to lower the statutory rate from 35% to 28%. He's vague on the details of how to pay for the rate cut -- but let's ign... [Read More]
January 27, 2012 - 5:32 PM EST
Sneak Peek: Obama's Big Idea
If you saw the State of the Union address you know that President Obama wants to change how we tax corporate profits. Here are his exact words from Tuesday night: "Right now, companies get tax breaks for moving jobs and profits overseas. Meanwhile, companies that choose to stay in America get hit... [Read More]
January 13, 2012 - 12:45 PM EST
The Taxpayer Advocate Speaks ... So Listen Up
Do you pay U.S. federal taxes? If so, did you know you have an official National Taxpayer Advocate? That's correct, somebody in-the-know who looks out for our collective interests as taxpayers. It's her job to loudly cry foul when something about our tax system isn't right and needs fixing. The cur... [Read More]
December 12, 2011 - 2:54 PM EST
Payroll Tax Politics
The GOP never met a tax cut they didn't like ... until now. That's how Democrats portray Republican reluctance to extend the payroll tax breaks scheduled to expire at the end of the year. Casual observers of U.S. tax policy can be forgiven for doing a double-take here. Election-year politics has tu... [Read More]
November 22, 2011 - 11:37 AM EST
Super Committee Gridlock: In Celebration of Failure
We're being told America's future has suddenly grown more bleak because the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction has dropped the ball. I'm not sold on that conclusion. The failure of the Super Committee might be exactly what America needs: a long overdue kick in the back side. The group's pa... [Read More]
November 17, 2011 - 3:48 PM EST
Greece's Inability to Tax Itself
The papers say we're on the verge of an economic meltdown because numerous EU member states can't get their fiscal house in order, and the contagion will inevitably spread to all corners of the globe. The sovereign debt crisis is rapidly becoming a liquidity crisis as the cost of borrowing has rece... [Read More]
August 29, 2011 - 5:45 PM EDT
How Tax Collectors Learned to Love Bank Secrecy
Germany and Switzerland recently signed a landmark tax agreement that resolves years of squabbling over secret bank accounts. Fascinatingly, the agreement ends one form of blatant offshore tax evasion while preserving Swiss bank secrecy. How can that be? The answer is simple: tax collectors have be... [Read More]
August 23, 2011 - 7:00 PM EDT
Tax.com Reader Survey: The People Have Spoken
Thanks to all the Tax.com readers who participated in our recent survey. It will be interesting to follow the events of the coming months and match the actual outcomes against the prognostication skills of our online community. Our first survey question was about the congressional deficit reduction... [Read More]
August 18, 2011 - 11:12 AM EDT
Taxes & Sovereignty: The Euro Experiment
Henry Kissinger predicted the demise of the euro many years ago. He and other euro-skeptics saw a fundamental flaw in the structure of the single currency. The flaw -- which remains in place to this day -- is that countries adopting the euro must forfeit monetary policy to the European Central Bank... [Read More]
August 9, 2011 - 4:12 PM EDT
Taxes & Deficits: Take the Survey
Ouch -- America's credit rating has been down graded. Not only are the Germans better than us at soccer, but now they have a stronger credit rating too. Ditto for France, Luxembourg and Sweden -- those bastions of fiscal responsibility. Okay, how long will it take us to regain our AAA rating? Histo... [Read More]
August 5, 2011 - 11:42 AM EDT
End Game for the Bush Tax Cuts?
The debt ceiling squabble is over. What did we accomplish? Not much, frankly. The Budget Control Act of 2011, signed into law by President Obama on August 2, involves an initial round of spending cuts worth $900 billion plus a second round of cuts worth at least $1.2 trillion. (All dollar amounts d... [Read More]
March 20, 2011 - 8:21 PM EDT
Japan's Earthquake & America's Debt
"What happens if China stops buying our debt?" For years that question has been tossed around Washington DC as a kind of doomsday scenario. As everyone knows by now, our national debt is on an unsustainable trajectory. The foregoing 'China issue' is identified as a possible trigger for all sorts of... [Read More]
February 3, 2011 - 2:45 PM EST
Battleground 2012: Taxpayers vs. Tax-Eaters
Everybody knows what a taxpayer is. We are the millions of people who pick up the tab for America's public spending. You, me, basically everyone you meet is a taxpayer. But what is a "tax-eater"? What do they look like? Where do they come from? And what should you do if you live next door to one? T... [Read More]
December 28, 2010 - 4:09 PM EST
Tax Cuts and Teaser Rates
You're well aware of the headlines by now. The Bush-era tax cuts have been extended for two years, through the end of December 2012. American citizens are pleased their tax rates won't be increasing on January 1, 2011, and media pundits are rushing to declare the political winners and losers. Here'... [Read More]
November 16, 2010 - 8:00 PM EST
Warner's Solution to the Tax Cut Conundrum
You know the story by now. If Congress doesn't renew them by the end of the year, the Bush-era tax cuts will expire and tax rates will return to the levels that existed when Bill Clinton was in office. That means the top marginal rate on ordinary income would jump from 35% to 39.6%, the long-term c... [Read More]
October 25, 2010 - 12:15 PM EDT
Do You Know Where Your Tax Dollars Go?
We Americans tend to be poorly informed about how the government spends our tax dollars. Consider this -- a Kaiser Foundation survey shows that, by a margin of two-to-one, the public thinks the government spends more money on foreign aid than on Social Security. (That happens to be wildly false.) M... [Read More]
September 16, 2010 - 11:34 AM EDT
The Vodafone Case Sets Dangerous Precedent
How would you feel if the tax collectors in some foreign country -- one you never had any direct dealings with -- sent you a tax bill for $2 billion? To make matters worse, let's say the foreign taxes have nothing to do with your own personal earnings; the bill relates entirely to somebody else's c... [Read More]
August 13, 2010 - 3:41 PM EDT
Memo to Rangel: Stand Down, Go Home
We have been told that Charlie Rangel was war hero. That's fine, but we no longer care. We have been told that Rangel did a lot for the little fellow during his many years in Congress. Again, we don't care anymore. Rangel's few remaining supporters make him out to be the Patron Saint of progressive... [Read More]
June 10, 2010 - 12:31 PM EDT
Gambling on IRS Whistleblower Payouts
Hedge funds are continually searching for investment opportunities that hold the potential for huge financial returns, regardless of the associated risk. Their latest strategy is remarkably clever, although something about it rubs me the wrong way. No doubt you're aware of the tax evasion scandals... [Read More]
May 4, 2010 - 10:20 AM EDT
Virginia to Charge for E-Filing: Say it Ain't So
Just the other day I lavished praise on the Commonwealth of Virginia for its leadership in the free-file movement. By way of follow up, we must note that there's been an unfortunate reversal of policy in Richmond. Starting next year, Virginia will deprive many taxpayers of the ability to e-file fre... [Read More]
April 28, 2010 - 3:13 PM EDT
Sorry Margaret, No Tea Parties in London
Why is there no equivalent to the Tea Party movement in the United Kingdom? British voters, like their American cousins, are concerned about the sluggish economy and rising unemployment. They're also deeply annoyed at bank bailouts and a self-serving political establishment. But where is the populi... [Read More]
April 14, 2010 - 3:38 PM EDT
Why Isn't E-Filing Free for Everyone?
April 15th is finally here. The day millions of procrastinating Americans assemble their federal income tax returns. In the old days this ritual involved rushing to the post office to make sure your envelope was postmarked before the midnight filing deadline. But an increasing number of taxpayers n... [Read More]
March 25, 2010 - 11:03 AM EDT
Catch Me If You Can: Lessons From UBS
The wave of offshore tax scandals sweeping across America and Europe reinforces an old adage: Sometimes it's better to be lucky than smart. Some voices in the tax community have been quick to point at these events as proof that our tax enforcement rules are functioning properly. Some have claimed v... [Read More]
January 11, 2010 - 11:16 AM EST
The Google Tax is Asinine
I do not hate the French. Honest. France is one of my favorite places to visit; the country is undeniably beautiful. I've previously been accused of being a cheese-eating, cognac-sipping, Francophile. I even have Serge Gainsbourg tracks on my ipod. So let me say from the outset that my objective he... [Read More]
November 6, 2009 - 11:38 AM EST
The Sweet Illusion of Control
Your taxes are about to increase. So are mine, and so are everybody elses. And there's nothing we can do about. It won't happen today or tomorrow, but it will happen soon -- and once the rates increase they will remain high for a very long time. That's the dire forecast contained in an IMF report r... [Read More]
September 17, 2009 - 8:24 PM EDT
The Exodus That Wasn't
The results are in -- London's hedge funds are staying put despite Prime Minister Gordon Brown's controversial tax hike. That news directly conflicts with all we were told when the U.K. announced it was raising the top individual tax rate from 40% to 50%. The higher rate applies to taxable income i... [Read More]
September 11, 2009 - 1:52 PM EDT
Can the Tobin Tax Help Us Sleep at Night?
Generally speaking, the purpose of any tax is to raise money for the government. But taxes often have important secondary consequences. People react to how they're taxed, or not taxed. Sometimes these behavioral responses are just as important as generating revenue. I was reminded of this when I re... [Read More]
August 26, 2009 - 10:40 AM EDT
U.S. Bank Secrecy is Alive & Kickin'
No doubt you've heard about our government's get-tough policy on tax evasion. It was splashed all over the headlines -- both here and overseas --- in connection with last week's deal between the U.S. Department of Justice and UBS, the influential Swiss bank that claims to be world's largest manager... [Read More]
August 8, 2009 - 10:23 PM EDT
Singing the Payroll Tax Blues
I've promised to stop ranting about how most people -- roughly half the country -- don't pay any income taxes. If we're serious about broadening the tax base and lowering rates, then everybody ought to have some skin in the game. Enough said. As many of you have pointed out, our country's poor do p... [Read More]
July 24, 2009 - 9:28 PM EDT
Starve the Beast, Feed a Crisis
Some years ago a group of folks in Washington devised what they thought was a clever idea. It was known as the Starve-the-Beast (STB) theory. The 'beast' here is a pejorative reference to our federal government, which was portrayed as bloated, bureaucratic, inefficient, and statist. Admittedly, the... [Read More]
July 22, 2009 - 5:01 PM EDT
The IRS Giveth, the IRS Taketh Away
When we last discussed the inadequacies of the U.S. tax system, I pointed out that roughly 43% of households paid no income tax. The Wall Street Journal picked up on the theme a few days later. Peter Ferrara's July 14 editorial The 0% Tax Rate Solution observed that the bottom 40% of households, as... [Read More]
July 18, 2009 - 4:57 PM EDT
The Tax That Business Can Love
Here's a riddle. How do you get corporate America to embrace a solution to our climate change crisis? The answer involves taxes. Specifically taxes that inflict pay-back on our favorite currency manipulators: the People's Republic of China. Don't get me wrong: I like all the Chinese people I've eve... [Read More]
July 15, 2009 - 5:57 PM EDT
The UBS Poker Game
Litigation is a bit like a poker game. Each player has a clear objective: collect as many of the other guy's chips as you can. As a means to that end, gamblers learn not to telegraph their hand. Above all else, never display weakness when bluffing. Over the coming weeks the U.S. Department of Justi... [Read More]
July 10, 2009 - 3:28 PM EDT
Moving Beyond the Income Tax
The phone rang the other night. It was a conservative friend who I hadn't heard from in months. He let me have it about how my last post was complete nonsense. His beef was that I understated the number of American households that pay no income tax. I recently said it was 40%. My pal disagreed and... [Read More]
July 7, 2009 - 7:28 PM EDT
In Praise of Shared Responsibility
Nobody enjoys paying taxes, but you must admit that our tax revenues pay for a lot of great things with redeeming social value. Things like public libraries, transportation infrastructure, and a military to protect us from crackpots like North Korea's Kim Jong-Il. (I'll conveniently overlook the fa... [Read More]
July 3, 2009 - 12:35 PM EDT
God Bless America ... The Tax Haven
The Fourth of July is a special occasion. It serves as a moment when our nation can reflect on the greatest of American virtues: baseball, apple pie, and bank secrecy. That's correct ... bank secrecy. The U.S.A. is the biggest tax haven in the world due to our bank secrecy regime. Ponder that as yo... [Read More]
July 1, 2009 - 4:39 PM EDT
Swiss Bankers Are Smiling
These days we hear a lot of talk about tax havens. If the headlines are to be believed there is a global crackdown on offshore tax evasion. That's good news, if it's true. I pay all my taxes, so it's only natural I'm peeved that others avoid paying their fair share by stashing money away in a forei... [Read More]