March 31, 2013

What is a “Double Irish with a Dutch Sandwich”?

And why is it that poor and middle-class families in Western countries are accountable for paying taxes while the very richest families and corporations aren’t? And what’s the deal with that empty, fenced off “development project” outside of Nairobi, the one being built for the world’s biggest tech firms?

Tax-Free Tour is a sweeping and infuriating look into the world of offshore tax havens and corporate tax-dodging, including how it all works and how it exacerbates global inequality and economic suffering. Made by Dutch journalists, the film competently dissects an underreported and crucial financial issue and is a real eye-opener. If you find it educational, please share.

The expression plastered on the face of the Starbucks financial officer as he’s being expertly grilled by the British MP—like a naughty boy being taken to task—is unlikely to be forgotten anytime soon.

After watching, there’s a chance you may decide to join the international tax justice movement. Fixing the tax haven issue could potentially ease the pain of millions of families.

Produced by Dutch public television broadcaster, VPRO.

September 21, 2012
Apple, Google, Microsoft Avoid Taxes By Keeping Billions In Profits Offshore: U.S. Senate

Huffington Post:

Using complex schemes to shift U.S. revenue overseas, Microsoft was able to avoid paying taxes on $21 billion in revenue between 2009 and 2011…the company avoided paying $4.5 billion in taxes during that time…Using similar schemes, Levin said, Apple avoided taxes on $34.5 billion between 2009 and 2011, and Google has dodged taxes on $24 billion.

July 31, 2012

Exhaustive Study Finds Global Elite Hiding Up to $32 Trillion in Offshore Accounts

A new report reveals how wealthy individuals and their families have between $21 and $32 trillion of hidden financial assets around the world in what are known as offshore accounts or tax havens. The actual sums could be higher because the study only deals with financial wealth deposited in bank and investment accounts, and not other assets such as property and yachts. The inquiry was commissioned by the Tax Justice Network and is being touted as the most comprehensive report ever on the “offshore economy.” It also finds that private banks are deeply involved in running offshore havens, with UBS, Credit Suisse and Goldman Sachs handling the most assets. We’re joined by the report’s author, James Henry, a lawyer and former chief economist at McKinsey & Company.

May 28, 2012
How the Corporate Elite Hijacked America's Courts to Enrich the Top 1 Percent

Joshua Holland: America’s political-economy is caught in a vicious cycle, with concentrated wealth at the top leading to outsized political power.

April 22, 2012
6 Rules Corporations Use to Dodge Taxes

The Nation: Sixty years ago, when Republican President Dwight Eisenhower lived in the White House, US corporations paid 32 percent of federal government’s tax receipts; last year they paid 9 percent.

April 16, 2012
Is the World Entering a New Epoch?

What do the French Revolution, the worldwide student/worker resistance of 1968, and the Arab Spring all have in common? Answer: These three political movements shook the foundations of the political establishment to the core.

In this piece for AJE, Jillian Schwedler of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst explores the possibility that with the Arab Spring, the Indignado movement, and Occupy Wall Street, we are witnessing up close the beginnings of a new chapter in world history.

February 27, 2012

CNBC aired its new documentary, “Filthy Rich“, for the first time last night. The documentary was the product of a year-long investigation (FTF):

One way to hide illicit assets is through shell corporations. The United States is one of just a handful of countries that allow the formation of companies without disclosing the true owner.

For more on the non-US, Central Asian side of tax paradise, see this extended clip of the film here.

January 22, 2012
Report: "Representation Without Taxation: Fortune 500 Companies that Spend Big on Lobbying and Avoid Taxes" [PDF]

"How Do Tax Haven Schemes Work?


Imagine a hypothetical pharmaceutical company creates a new drug. Before putting it on the market, they sell the drug patent to a subsidiary that consists of just a post office box in the Cayman Islands, at practically no cost. The drug is produced, marketed and sold to U.S. customers in the United States. The U.S. company then pays inflated ‘royalties’ or ‘licensing fees’ to the offshore subsidiary. It deducts this “expense” from its taxable income, thereby avoiding corporate taxes.


The technique used by the hypothetical pharmaceutical company manipulates ‘transfer pricing,’ which refers to prices theoretically charged in transactions between subsidiaries of the same corporation. To shift profits offshore, one entity will undercharge or overcharge the other so the profits are booked to the tax haven country, while ‘business expenses’ are booked to the company in the higher tax country.”

January 19, 2012

We’re Not Broke is a new documentary about the political economy of corporations in America—and the pre-Occupy social justice movement—that will be premiering at Sundance Film Festival next week. If you don’t blink, you can catch yours truly in this preview.

January 5, 2012
Forbes: 29 Companies That Paid Millions For Lobbying (And Didn't Pay Taxes)

Thirty large U.S. corporations paid more money to Congressional lobbyists than they paid in taxes from 2008-2010, according to a new report from Public Campaign, a purportedly non-partisan corporate watchdog organization that seeks to reduce the influence of big companies in politics. The report names 30 profitable companies (only one of which paid federal corporate taxes during the period analyzed), with lobbying expenditures ranging from $710,000 to $84.4 million.

The worst offender, according to the report, is General Electric. The company – which drew fire earlier this year when its lack of taxes came to light – spent over $39 million on lobbyists in 2010 alone.

September 26, 2011
Occupy Wall Street Protest Enters Second Week; 80 Arrested at Peaceful March [Video]

Despite police violence including mace and punches against peaceful protesters, the occupation continues. For more on the current situation in and around Liberty Plaza, NYC, watch this report from Democracy Now!

September 21, 2011
Wall Street Occupation Continues [Video]

Arrests and police use of force have not deterred a sustained encampment of Manhattan’s financial district.

September 19, 2011
Roseanne Barr Speaks to Wall Street Protesters [Video]

Rosie tells it like it is.

September 18, 2011

Early media roundup of September 17 Wall Street protest:

NYTimes: http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/09/17/wall-street-protest-begins-with-demonstrators-blocked/

FOX/News Corp.: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2011/09/17/demonstrators-occupy-wall-street-to-protest-influence-money-on-us-politics/ 

CNNMoney/Time Warner: http://money.cnn.com/2011/09/17/technology/occupy_wall_street/ 

CNN/Time Warner: http://edition.cnn.com/2011/09/16/tech/social-media/twitter-occupy-wall-street/

ABC/Disney: http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2011/09/protesters-begin-effort-to-occupy-wall-street/

MSNBC/Comcast: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/44564317/ns/us_news-life/t/protesters-invade-nyc-financial-district/ 

CBS: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/09/17/national/main20107772.shtml 

NPR: http://www.npr.org/2011/09/16/140539560/anonymous-comes-out-in-the-open

Huffington Post/AOL: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/18/occupy-wall-street-protesters_n_968589.html  

Bloomberg: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-09-18/wall-street-occupied-by-a-few-hundred-people-as-protesters-ranks-dwindle.html

The Nation: http://www.thenation.com/blog/160653/massive-wall-street-protest-draws-over-20000

Al Jazeera English: http://stream.aljazeera.com/story/us-protesters-rally-occupywallstreet  

Russia Today: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eGN1aVfNQDs&feature=youtu.be

Not a word so far, far as I can tell: Wall Street Journal, CNBC, Associated Press, Reuters, USA Today/Gannett, McClatchy, BBC

September 4, 2011
Chant of 'tax the rich' growing louder in nation

SF Chronicle: “What’s happened is that the unemployed, the uninsured, the underinsured and the homeless have become invisible in our culture,” says Rose Ann DeMoro, executive director of the nurses’ union.