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Archive for August 31st, 2009

I’m at the Denver Airport, waiting to fly to Phoenix and then on to Los Cabos, Mexico. But I’m not going for sun and fun. In part, this is because Los Cabos is facing a hurricane watch. But the main reason is that I’m going to Mexico to help low-tax jurisdictions fight against fiscal imperialism. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), an international bureaucracy based in (where else) Paris, is persecuting so-called tax havens because they are attracting jobs and investment from high-tax welfare states such as France and Germany. This fight has been going on for about 10 years, and we’ve done a fairly decent job of thwarting the bureaucrats (who, by the way, get tax-free salaries). But the election of Obama has given the OECD some momentum. This raises the risk that the bureaucrats will succeed in imposing a global tax cartel – sort of an “OPEC for politicians.” To that end, the OECD is hosting a conference in Los Cabos designed to bully low-tax jurisdictions into surrendering their fiscal sovereignty.

Like most government entities, the OECD does not believe in open and fair discussion. The bureaucrats already have used their leverage to kick our delegation out of the main conference hotel (though delegation is probably an overstatement since it is just me and Andy Quinlan of the Center for Freedom and Prosperity.

Maybe the huuricane will thwart the OECD’s pernicious plans to impose bad tax policy on free-market jurisdictions. If not, keep your fingers crossed that Andy and I somehow can throw sand in the gears and defend tax competition, fiscal sovereignty, and financial privacy.

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We all know about Tim “turbotax” Geithner, our Treasury Secretary who failed to pay tax on a huge sum of money (more than the average household earns in one year). Because he’s a political insider, he got a get-out-of-jail-free card. Now another senior Democrat has been exposed as a tax scofflaw. The Chairman of the House tax-writing committee seems to have treated his personal tax bill as an optional obligation – yet he’s the guy pushing higher tax rates for the rest of us. Maybe the fact that they don’t pay their own bills is the reason Democrats think taxes have no impact on the economy? Anyhow, the Wall Street Journal has the details on Congressman Rangel’s shenanigans:

When normal people happen to “find” their own money, it might mean a twenty left in a winter coat, or discovering change beneath the sofa cushions. But if you’re Charlie Rangel, it means doubling your net worth. Earlier this month the Chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee “amended” his 2007 financial disclosure form—to the tune of more than a half-million dollars in previously unreported assets and income. That number may be as high as $780,000, because Congress’s ethics rules only require the Members to report their finances within broad ranges. This voyage of personal financial discovery brings Mr. Rangel’s net worth for 2007 to somewhere between $1.028 million and $2.495 million, while his previous statement came in at $516,015 and $1.316 million. When you’re a powerful Congressman and working diligently to increase tax rates to pay for President Obama’s health-care plan, we suppose it’s easy to lose track of one of your checking accounts. That would be the one at the federal credit union with a balance somewhere between $250,001 and maybe as high as $500,000. And when you’re crunched for time and pulling together bills to pass in a rush, we guess, too, that you might overlook several other investment accounts, even if some of them are sizable, such as the ones Mr. Rangel missed at JP Morgan, Merrill Lynch, Oppenheimer and BlackRock. Oh, and those vacant properties in Glassboro, in southern Jersey? …The Chairman probably isn’t doing a lot of dining at KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell or Long John Silver’s, either, which may explain why he didn’t disclose the $1,001 to $15,000 in stock he owns in Yum Brands, the conglomerate that runs those chain restaurants. Compared to his undisclosed portfolio stake in PepsiCo—$15,001 to $50,000—that’s practically a rounding error. …Among other issues, Mr. Rangel is currently under investigation regarding his use of four rent-stabilized apartments at New York City’s tony Lenox Terrace and soliciting donations with his official letterhead for the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service at City College of New York, which was itself built with a $1.9 million earmark. Yet another part of the probe is his failure to report $75,000 in income from a rental villa at the beachfront Punta Cana Yacht Club, in the Dominican Republic. Mr. Rangel blamed that last one on the language barrier because he doesn’t speak Spanish. We can only imagine what language he speaks with his accountants and tax attorneys.

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