Tax and morality? The two should never meet…

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The language, or rather political language de jour, is for the canvassing potential members of the next parliament (Parliamentary candidates in the UK) to merge two very different concepts into one, in the public’s mind. Those words are tax evasion and tax avoidance. We (at the theMarketSoul) believe we potentially know why, but the consequences might not yet be clearly understood.

Economic principle of creative destruction - joseph schumpeter
My PRECIOUS…!

At a recent televised debate attended by potential next Business Secretary representatives (politicians who would be in charge of the Business, Innovation and Skills [BIS] department) from the three major political parties, one of the candidates challenged the audience thus:

“You (tax advisers) know the difference between aggressive tax avoidance on the the one hand and tax planning on the other.”  No the question was actually this: “Please raise your hand in the audience if you do not know what aggressive tax avoidance is.” From the podium the verdict came that about half the audience raised their hands. And therein lies the problem: Are you making this a moral question now? Because until someone is able to clearly define and explain how morality and tax planning are linked; we at theMarketSoul cannot help but think:  Where next in this one sided ‘supposed’ quasi debate?

It really depends on how you ask the question:

Is taxation moral? Is paying tax moral? What level of taxation is moral? Is being moral, paying your taxes?  If you don’t pay taxes, are you immoral?

Hopefully, you get our drift…?

© theMarketSoul 2015 skelet

Wake up Britain. You are a #TAX Haven too!!!

Let’s just pause for a moment: #Tax avoidance talk is all the rage at the moment…

In order to redress the balance of negative sentiment, combined with a political(ly) charged environment with electioneering by all major political UK parties posturing new populist policies (say that fast a few times); we thought it a good idea to put a little perspective on the matter of #Tax avoidance (tax planning we prefer to call it).  Remember this is #Election2015 coming up on 7 May 2015.

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So HSBC bank (more specifically the Swiss subsidiary of their Private Banking arm) got themselves into difficulty over the past couple of weeks with the BBC Panorama programme revelations as reported by Richard Bilton.
Accused of large scale collusion on tax avoidance or even evasion practices, the liberal and politically left leaning media in the UK have quite rightly got themselves embroiled in a multi-layered debate from both tax avoidance and the morals thereof to standards of editorial judgement, when corporate advertisers are the subject of negative headlines (the Daily Telegraph).
However, to grab a headline back for ourselves (and balance the debate):
Britain, wake-up, you are a corporate TAX Haven” and to cap it off, you are not that popular with other higher taxing G8 jurisdictions.
The overall corporation tax environment in the UK has significantly improved if you are considering a Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) route into the UK over the life-time of this last Conservative-Liberal Democrat led parliament.
 world-tax-haven
With corporate tax rates for both small and large enterprises almost aligned at 20% and 21% respectively from April 2014 onwards, for net profits assessable to corporation tax, the UK is one of the lowest corporate tax regimes in the G20 club.
What are the implications of this?
More FDI is attracted to the UK and therefore the potential to create more jobs and reduce the dependency on government handouts reduced.
What has not yet happened though, is that the tax receipts from corporations subjected to corporation tax in the UK increased significantly.  This is partly due to timing issues; Capital and Investment allowances reducing the overall tax take and further aggressive tax avoidance activities by these Multi-National Corporations (MNC).
English: Tax rates around the world: VAT rate/...
Tax rates around the world: VAT rate/G&S Tax rate (the highest rate) by countries (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
On the whole the average effective corporation tax rate actually paid in the UK is therefore less than the 21% head line rate for large businesses with profits over £300,000.  This is due to the cash tax rate paid by corporations being reduced by capital allowances and research and development credits bringing down the effective rate paid as a percentage of the net profit assessable to corporation tax to well below 21%.  These legitimate reductions are known as reliefs.
For a fuller and official explanation of the UK corporate tax system and reliefs available, we suggest a quick glimpse at HMRC site at this address:  https://www.gov.uk/corporation-tax-rates/rates
PwC put together a league table of effective (most attractive to least attractive jurisdictions on that is called “international tax competitiveness”.  In 2014 the UK ranked 16th, with only Ireland and Denmark, (two fellow EU member states) beating the UK from the EU member state block.
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We will continue to develop this theme over the next few weeks leading up to the general election in the UK.
theMarketSoul © 2015
Please take our anonymous poll below:
 
PS. To balance our views, please refer to some of these articles for your further reading:

Pony ponderings…

Have you ever overheard a small debate between children related to #economics? Some at theMarketSoul (c)1999 -2013 find themselves in Spain this weekend, relaxing with family and the following conversation between young siblings are worth repeating.
In some bizarre way, it relates to labour economics and the minimum wage:
Pony
Pony (Photo credit: Moyan_Brenn_BE_BACK_IN_SEPTEMBER)
We had just observed a single horse drawn carriage in the streets of Marbella, when the conversation kicked off.
C1 “What is the minimum wages?”
C2 “I don’t know, why should I?”
A1 “It currently is around €7.00 / hour or something very close”
C1 “Ok, so if one apple costs say €1, then the pony should get 7 apples an hour for working, right?”
C2 “Why?” [by the way C1 is 13 years old and C2 is 11 years old”
C1 “Because that is the minimum wage”
C2 “That doesn’t make any sense!”
C1 “What do you mean it does not make any sense, it is simple mathematics?”
C2 “Why should the pony get 7 apples per hour? What if it only wants 3 apples and something else?”
C1 “Because that is the minimum wage!”
C2 “Yes, but the pony might not want so many apples. The pony might want to choose for itself how many apples it wants”
C1 “Now you don’t make any sense to me at all!  The pony should get exactly what the minimum wage is, or more”
C2 “But the pony might not want or need all those apples. It might need fewer apples, but want more oats or something else. The pony should choose and not someone else…”
And thus we had a little insight into an economic debate between the ‘social cohesion’ leaning child and the ‘libertarian’ leaning child. No fisticuffs or bad mouthing, but different opinions and different attitudes to life. It will be interesting to listen into another conversation along these lines.
With a binding minimum wage of w the marginal ...
With a binding minimum wage of w the marginal cost to the firm becomes the horizontal black MC ‘ line, and the firm maximises profits at A with a higher employment L . However in this example the minimum wage is higher than the competitive one, leading to involuntary unemployment equal to the segment AB. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
We agree with C2’s questions on where the choice for the minimum wage really lies. The wage level should be determined by the provider of the labour, whether individually or collectively bargained, but there should be no interference from government in this process.
Take note Europe, this is just one factor contributing to your long drawn out decline. Markets, not quasi-markets and constant political interference and distortions in the markets; should determine clearing prices or wages.
But this seems to be a lesson a child can learn, but not grown up political leaders…
theMarketSoul ©2013

Trust, Risk and stifled Innovation

In the light of the recent Citigroup’s settlement of mis-sold Hedge Fund investments, we issue this brief opinion piece on the interactions of Risk, Trust and Innovation:

Citigroup

We don’t think it is so much about TRUST or trusting institutions anymore but has always been about Caveat Emptor (Buyer beware).

No investor can or should trust institutions without conducting their own due diligence and risk profile / risk appetite assessment first.  In the past investors could possibly rely on professional ‘trusted’ advisors to help then navigate the due diligence part, at least in theory.  Risk and risk appetite assessment was the more tricky part and not even the professionals had sophisticated enough tools to help their clients through this quagmire landscape.

In some recent papers, researchers argue that ...
In some recent papers, researchers argue that the return from an investment mainly results from exposure to systematic risk factors. Jaeger, L., Wagner, C., “Factor Modelling and Benchmarking of Hedge Funds: Can passive investments in hedge fund strategies deliver?”, Journal of Alternative Investments (Winter 2005) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We believe this is the unintended consequence of over regulation or an over regulated environment.  Relational trust has been eroded in favour of ‘legislative trust’ and therefore the impersonal ‘hand of public scrutiny’ is supposed to protect the innocents.

Trust
Trust (Photo credit: elycefeliz)

We need to ensure the pendulum swings back to a happy balance between relationship and legislative trust, unburden ourselves from the over regulated and expensive compliance environment we have allowed to engulf and overwhelm us, not adding any value, but stifling innovation instead.

theMarketSoul ©2012

 

Source Article: http://www.garp.org/risk-news-and-resources/risk-headlines/story.aspx?newsid=44034

Our Lessons from 2011

 

We decided to summarise our learning from 2011 into two brief thoughts:

 

The May 1, 2010 cover of the Economist newspap...
Image via Wikipedia
  1. The pains and strains of the economic sovereign debt melt-down in 2011, should stand us in good stead to deal with even more debt and sovereign strain in 2012, as More and Bigger Europe continue to miss the point; this being that more bureaucracy and more government and regulation will not get the INNOVATION engine started again to Recapitalise Europe!

    Graphic "When Greece falls" presente...
    Image via Wikipedia
  2. Translational differences will matter.  The CLOUD is a huge business and business model transformation opportunity.  IT ‘Geekery’ and language could scupper this potential opportunity and we need to develop more ‘CLOUD TRANSLATION’ services so that a broader community and eco-system can get involved in an aspect of “INNOVATION ignition” in 2012.
Clouds over Tahoe HDR #1
Image by Bill Strong via Flickr

All the best and good luck in 2012.

 

theMarketSoul ©2011

…and here is some good news…

 

Adding further value to our conversation on The Market eQuation we introduce the concept of the:

RISKed RETURN on MARKET (RdROM) today on 11.11.11.

RISKed RETURN on MARKET adds a counter balance to the Efficient Market Hypothesis and Rational Market Theory, Black Scholes and CAPM, amongst others.

More detail to follow in due course…

theMarketSoul ©2011

The Big Design: Moral Hazard, and the EU

Irrespective of how the twists and turns of the Greek political system plays out over the next few days and weeks, we believe that the Big EU (Eurozone more specifically) players and their leaders only have themselves to blame for Greece‘s seemingly petulant behaviour.

If at the fundamental level we cannot understand that ANY form of bail-out will always support and lead to Moral Hazard, then we have learnt nothing from the past and the more recent debt and financial crisis of the 2008.

Previously we mentioned the ‘Credit Quake’ with lots of after tremors (attributed to Dennis Cox of Risk Reward), will last for a number of years and this is exactly what we have playing out as daily deadlines in front of our eyes at the moment.

However, to return to the point at hand:  The age of economic dilemma of Moral Hazard has reared its monstrous head again and is in danger of ‘nabbing us in the butt’ (yet again), because the leaders of the EU (more specifically the Eurozone 17) do not want to understand that all their actions in supporting Greece is only leading to a more dangerous form of Moral Hazard and flies in the face of the Austrian School‘s ideas of ‘Creative Destruction‘.

Without effective mechanisms in place to deal with European regions at different cycles of development (not even to mention the basic lack of sound  fiscal management), is to ask for problems (on a continuous basis).

Until a sound framework of either full fiscal and monetary union with appropriate checks and balances are rolled out in Europe, with a single capital market instrument (Gilt / Bond or EuroBond) and mechanisms for dealing with localised ‘failures’ of the market to clear itself effectively (never mind efficiently); we will continue to wretch and lurch about with market confidence eroded and leaders running around like headless chickens trying and implementing inappropriate tools for the job a sound framework is supposed to deal with.

It is not more regulation we want.  It is simply BETTER regulation.  It is that simple.

theMarketSoul ©2011