Solving the problem of tax evasion – an international tax rate

The media is awash with stories from the Paradise Papers, a cache of 13.4m leaked files exposing measures taken by multinational corporations, and wealthy individuals, to minimise their tax liabilities.

The Guardian article highlights the extent of the problem that allows “Millions of pounds from the Queen’s private estate has been invested in a Cayman Islands fund – and some of her money went to a retailer accused of exploiting poor families and vulnerable people”.

Another example exposes “A previously unknown $450m offshore trust that has sheltered the wealth of Lord Ashcroft”.

Another highlights “Aggressive tax avoidance by multinational corporations, including Nike and Apple”.

All of the examples in this article, and the many more in the Paradise Papers, expose one thing, the extent to which wealth insulates itself against taxation.

I think tax is the price you pay to live in a civilised society. If you want to do business in any country, you should pay tax in that country. Tax pays for the infrastructure that allows you, as a company or an individual, to make a profit.

If there’s no tax income, there’s no schools to educate your workforce, no roads to transport your goods, no healthcare for the consumers of your services. If you do not pay your fair share, you have no right to agency in that society, and no right to profit.

The real problem exposed in the Paradise Papers is the low tax territories that allow the wealthiest to move their money into off-shore accounts or trusts or businesses.

For me the only solution to this kind of behaviour is a single rate of tax, all over the world, no matter the territory you are in. The only way to stop wealth being moved to low tax territories is to remove low tax territories. I know this won’t happen. I have no faith that anyone will do anything to curb these aggressive tax avoidance schemes. The political will just isn’t there, the vested interests are too powerful.

But a single worldwide tax rate is the logical extension of the multinational business. If multinationals trade internationally why not make them pay an international tax rate. If rich individuals live internationally, why shouldn’t they pay an international tax rate.

That would close the loophole allowing low tax territories to exist in the first place. What’s the point of moving your money if there is no benefit to this slight of hand.

Just a thought.


Every digigraph tells a story, here’s mine

I take a lot of digital photographs or as I like to call them digigraphs. I create them exclusively with my iPhone and the vast array of apps it supports.

I distinguish these images from the direct photochemical connection to reality that is photography because I think, while they share a vast array of similarities, there is something unique about the images generated in this way.

The digital image is infinitely malleable, giving it a deeply subjective relationship with reality. The mobile computer/camera allows us all to capture and shape our perception of the world and distribute that vision through social networks.

I would not have started creating these images if not for my iPhone. It is always with me, ubiquitous, allowing me to capture candid moments without the intrusion brought by traditional equipment.

I shoot almost every day, usually walking the streets while trying to keep the sun at my back. I rarely have the camera at eye level, preferring instead to hold it low while keeping a tangental eye on the screen. I cut the earbuds off the supplied headphones to make a digital shutter release so I can capture a scene with a click of the volume button.

I distribute these images across several platforms, first to my digigrah stream LessBeauty // MoreBrains then to Instagram, EyeEm and most recently AMPt Community.

I got an iPhone

I got a new iPhone 4s yesterday. I’m not a natural Apple customer. So this is something of an unknown for me. To date I’ve avoided all things Apple. My main discomfort with the mighty fruit, apart from the price, is that while Mr. Jobs products look wonderful. The whole top down, total integration, of Apple’s product line feels a little fascist.

I know that’s a bit harsh, and mostly it was said for effect, but it does feel bit like I’ve joined a cult. Someone said to me yesterday when they saw the phone. “They’re like crack cocaine.” I can only think he meant the iPhone will take over my life. A sobering thought as I am tied into this thing for two years.

Why choose an iPhone? I’ve been looking to get a new phone for while, and spent a long time weighing the pros and cons of a replacement for the dinosaur I used to carry. To date most of my phones have been supplied by Sony Ericsson. So I checked out their latest incarnations. While they were packed with features, and Android’s latest operating system, they were on the whole flimsy. They felt like they’d crumble over time. I had a look at a couple of phones from Blackberry. The build quality was better, but their screens are too small, and I knew that would become an issue.

In the end I took the plunge, and got the new iPhone. Out of the box it feels substantial. Its features and apps all seem intuitive. The first negative I’ve come across is the calendar app. For some reason you have limited control of repeat appointments. I want to repeat an appointment every twelve weeks, but find myself limited to every week, month, or year. I’m sure I’ll be able to find a replacement, but it’s still annoying that you can’t control appointments adequately.

The phone’s on-screen keyboard might take a little getting used to, but I’ve managed to write this whole thing without too much trouble. Cut and paste options are still hard to control. My fingers are imprecise tools, something more delicate is needed. Overall the whole experience reminds me a little of typing on my old Psion Revo, and I wrote a substantial amount of my first screenplay on one of those things.

It might not be such a problem once I get to grips with the Siri function. I tried it out yesterday with limited success, felt a bit of an idiot talking to myself. Amused my girlfriend though.

In the end I think I chose the iPhone because it seemed like the best choice from a quality standpoint. It feel like I’m holding something that will last. Still not a hundred percent though. Feels a bit like I’ve gone and drunk the cool-aid.

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