Archive for June 10th, 2010
The Freeman has an article by an expert from Bermuda about the importance of giving taxpayers an escape option to curtail the greed of the political elite. Here’s an excerpt:
The Declaration of Independence had it exactly right: “He [King George III] has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.” Today, the United States makes George III look like a piker. …The U.S. governments—federal, state, and local—find that extracting 35–40 percent of incomes is not sufficient. They need more to continue their march toward the perfect welfare state… The EU countries are even worse, with governments raking in around 50 percent of national output. Even Louis IV of France would now be viewed as a benevolent uncle compared to that. The U.S. and EU governments intrude on the financial lives of citizens in every conceivable way, from taxes to regulations to absurd laws that shape and control their citizens. …Thomas Paine, who wrote of “the greedy hand of government, thrusting itself into every corner and crevice of industry,” would be astounded at today’s situation. …There are a number of countries, disparagingly called tax havens (or offshore financial centers), most of them small and insignificant, such as Bermuda, Monaco, Liechtenstein, and Cayman, that are allegedly sabotaging the grandiose plans of the United States and the European Union to create their utopian welfare states… The greatest enemy of the modern State is not the terrorist, criminal, hoodlum, or even the foreign aggressor; it is the citizen who simply wants to keep his own income or to protect his own wealth. “Need” is defined as getting your hands on other people’s money, and greed has come to mean the natural desire to protect your own property and assets from sequestration by governments. …Tax competition compels governments to think more carefully before spending the public’s money and frees entrepreneurs for greater access to investment funds. Contrary to common belief, low-tax jurisdictions do not siphon off capital from high-tax areas, but allow a better and more effective means of making investment decisions. The Bible established a tax rate of 10 percent, known as the tithe. That should be enough for governments. There is little hope for optimism on that score. Low-tax countries are an affront to high-tax countries that believe they have a right to tell the rest of the world how to live. So high-tax countries try to force their tax regimes on everyone else. That is financial imperialism.
Posted in Big Government, Class warfare, Corruption, Crime, Financial Privacy, Fiscal Policy, Government Thuggery, Statism, Tax avoidance, Tax Compliance, Tax evasion, Tax Haven, Taxation, Underground Economy, Welfare State, tagged Argentina, Big Government, Class warfare, Corruption, Crime, Financial Privacy, Hillary Clinton, Latin America, Liberty, Mexico, Tax avoidance, Tax evasion, Tax Haven, Underground Economy, Venezuela on June 10, 2010 | 18 Comments »
In an amusing coincidence, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and I were both in Latin America this week offering fiscal policy advice. But it won’t surprise you to know that Mrs. Clinton’s suggestions are radically different than the advice I provided. She spoke in Ecuador and, according to an AFP report, said it was time for “the wealthy across the Americas to pay their ‘fair share’ of taxes in order to eliminate poverty and promote economic opportunity for all.” She also claimed that “her appeal to overhaul tax systems did not amount to ‘class warfare’ and was instead a recognition that the ‘winner-take-all-approach’ was a drag on progress.” The AFP story concludes with Mrs. Clinton asserting, “We can’t mince words about this. Levels of tax evasion are unacceptably high,”
By contrast, in my remarks to the Fundacion Libertad in Panama and in my speech to the Chamber of Commerce in El Salvador, I explained that academic research shows that better tax compliance is best achieved by lowering tax rates and eliminating inefficient and corrupt spending programs so that taxpayers have more confidence that their money is not being wasted. But let’s touch on something even more important than economics. I also made a moral argument about the danger of giving national tax authorities too much power and information – especially in a region where governments oftentimes are the source of oppression, expropriation, and tyranny. Simply stated, there are some things that are more important than obeying tax laws. This Center for Freedom and Prosperity video explains that so-called tax havens are an extremely important refuge for people who are subject to persecution and other forms of government malfeasance.
Let’s consider some Latin American examples. Imagine a political dissident in Venezuela. Hugo Chavez has turned that country into a thugocracy and opponents of his sinister regime are vulnerable to having their assets expropriated (and worse). Thankfully, many Venezuelans are able to protect themselves from socialist tyranny by putting their money in Cayman, Panama, or Miami (the U.S. is a tax haven for non-U.S. people). But if Mrs. Clinton got to make the rules, tax havens would no longer exist and Chavez would be empowered.
Or what about families in Mexico, who rightfully are afraid that if they keep their money in the country and report it on their tax returns, corrupt bureaucrats in the national tax office will sell their names to criminal gangs and suddenly their children will be kidnapped and they will have to deal with the horror of getting a ransom note accompanied by a child’s finger. Fortunately, many Mexicans can guard against this horrific possibility by placing their assets in Cayman, Panama, or Miami. But in Mrs. Clinton’s ideal world, those options would not exist and many more people would experience the nightmare of vicious crime.
And consider the plight of Argentinians. A few years ago, the nation’s venal government stole the private pension assets of the people. This is in addition to radical currency devaluations that have wiped out a big chunk of people’s savings. Prudent Argentinians have avoided these forms of back-door thievery by moving funds to Cayman, Panama, and Miami. In the Orwellian world envisioned by Mrs. Clinton, however, tax havens wouldn’t exist and governments would have carte blanche to engage in bad policy.
This is not the first indication of Mrs. Clinton’s government-über-alles mindset as Secretary of State. Let’s remember that she urged class-warfare tax policy for Pakistan and more recently said Brazil was a role model for soak-the-rich tax policy (a strange assertion since the top tax rate there is only 27.5 percent). If nothing else, at least we can give her credit for being consistent.
But if I have to choose between Mrs. Clinton’s consistent statism and protecting the liberty and freedom of oppressed and persecuted people, it’s no contest. Politicians and senior government appointees all over the world act as if folks in the private sector are nothing more than serfs and peasants who have an obligation to pay ever-higher tax burdens, so we should be happy that so-called tax havens offer a refuge – even if we don’t live in failed states such as Venezuela, Mexico, and Argentina. Actually, since Obama is trying to turn us into Greece, maybe this issue will be important for Americans even sooner than we think.