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Archive for June 8th, 2009

The U.K.-based Guardian reports that the United Nations and other international bureaucracies dealing with so-called climate change are scheming to impose global taxes. That’s not too surprising, but it is discouraging to read that the Obama Administration is acquiescing to these attacks on U.S. fiscal sovereignty. The Administration also has indicated it wants to squander an additional $400 billion on foreign aid:

…rich countries will be asked to accept a compulsory levy on international flight tickets and shipping fuel to raise billions of dollars to help the world’s poorest countries adapt to combat climate change. The suggestions come at the start of the second week in the latest round of UN climate talks in Bonn, where 192 countries are starting to negotiate a global agreement to limit and then reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The issue of funding for adaptation is critical to success but the hardest to agree. …It has been proposed by the world’s 50 least developed countries. It could be matched by a compulsory surcharge on all international shipping fuel, said Connie Hedegaard, the Danish environment and energy minister who will host the final UN climate summit in December. …In Bonn last week, a separate Mexican proposal to raise billions of dollars was gaining ground. The idea, known as the “green fund” plan, would oblige all countries to pay amounts according to a formula reflecting the size of their economy, their greenhouse gas emissions and the country’s population. That could ensure that rich countries, which have the longest history of using of fossil fuels, pay the most to the fund. Recently, the proposal won praise from 17 major-economy countries meeting in Paris as a possible mechanism to help finance a UN pact. The US special envoy for climate change, Todd Stern, called it “highly constructive”. …Last week, a US negotiator, Jonathan Pershing, said that the US had budgeted $400m to help poor countries adapt to climate change as an interim measure. But that amount was dismissed as inadequate by Bernarditas Muller of the Philippines, who is the co-ordinator of the G77 and China group of countries.

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Investor’s Business Daily rightly criticizes a proposal in Congress to enable states to tax sales that occur outside their borders. The IBD piece focuses on greedy politicians trying to increase the burden of government, but this issue also deals with fundamental – and important – issues of extraterritorial taxation, as explained in this short article:

Policymakers have been desperately trying to tax retail Web sales since the 1990s. So far, their efforts have gone largely unrewarded. Taxes on Internet commerce are generally levied only when the seller has a physical presence in the buyer’s state. This wealth-creating tax-free zone has allowed Web sales to surge. From humble beginnings — about $28 billion in 2000 — they reached $130.1 billion last year, up 6% from 2007. Elected officials and the bureaucrats who run their programs have watched electronic commerce whiz by much like a tethered wolf would watch raw meat repeatedly dragged by just outside its grasp: All they can think about is getting their claws on it. So it’s no surprise they’re at it again. Sen. Mike Enzi, a Wyoming Republican, has joined Rep. William Delahunt, a Massachusetts Democrat, to write the Sales Tax Fairness and Simplification Act, which would give states the law they need to tax sales between consumers and out-of-state sellers. …The retail Web market won’t crash if its sales are taxed. But it will soften the competition, which always benefits consumers, between Web retailers and traditional retailers. Under those conditions, jobs will be lost, growth will suffer and entrepreneurship, which fuels the economy, will be restrained. …A country already liable for wild spending at the state and federal levels doesn’t need another tax. An economy struggling to recover doesn’t need one of its growing sectors to be choked. Congress, as always, needs to think a lot more clearly.

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