MyPrivateBanking Blog
Daily Comments on the World of Wealth Management

Posts Tagged ‘tax’

Responsible Wealth vs. Responsible Spending

Monday, February 8th, 2010

A friend of mine has drawn my attention to an initiative called „Responsible Wealth”. It aims at the top 5% of income or wealth in the US that “care about economic justice” and asks them to donate some or all of the tax savings from the tax cuts of the Bush and Clinton administration to “tax fairness organizing”. This raises the question if the top 5% do not already pay a fair share of taxes already? To assess this question I looked at data of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to get a better idea of the role of the Top 5% in income generation and tax payments:

As it turns out in 2007, the top 5 percent of tax payers earned 37.4 % of adjusted gross income paid 60.6 % of all federal individual income taxes. In comparison to 1992 (when Clinton came in office) the Top 5% had a share of 28% of the total adjusted gross income and a share of 45,9% of all federal income tax. No shift in the relation between share of total gross income and share of tax paid during the Clinton/Bush era. Just for comparison: The bottom 50% of adjusted gross income in 2007 had a group share of 2.9% of income tax.

While “fairness” is always in the eye of the beholder and one can always argue about the “fairness” of single cases and tax cuts I do not see the overall point of the Responsible Wealth Initiative. If the top 5% of the taxpayers account for 60% of all tax payments and the bottom 50% for 2.89% I find it hard to argue that the wealthy do not already “care about economic justice”. Even more so when taking into account that the wealthy in the US spend each year between 2-3% of their investable assets for charity.

I fully agree that the living conditions of the poor can and should be improved, but for me it isn’t a matter of the wealthy being irresponsible, but instead, a matter of the government spending their huge amount of tax money responsibly. The solution to take more and more money from those who generate economic development in order to increase public spending and improve ecomomy is too populist and shortsighted. It would be much more useful for this purpose to demand more effective investments of tax receipts by limiting the influence of lobby groups, streamlining bureaucracy and thinking beyond the next election day.


Groundhog Day Again

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

Again sensitive bank data on offshore-accountsgot stolen. Again these information are offered to the government of the account holders. Again the government seems to be willing to bend the law and to pay for these illegally acquired data.  In our recent analysis on data theft we preditcted that these kind of “private banking data auctions” will happen again and again untill the stolen assets become worthless.

Whistle blowing, breach of confidentiality, and the outright theft of files recently has been enormously popular among some employees of offshore banks. It is almost impossible to stop such individuals. They have the potential to completely destroy the reputation of financial centers like Liechtenstein, Luxembourg or Switzerland, and a lot of damage has been done already. If there are no more potential buyers for confidential customer files the business is gone. But this would be only possible when the banks convert offshore to onshore customers. Or, alternatively, show the door to all customers who are unwilling to co-operate.


The US hosts the No. 1 Offshore Centre

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

A recent study ranks the U.S. state Delaware as the place with the most secretive jurisdiction worldwide. Or how the Guardian puts it in more practical terms: “(…) Top of the pile, beating the British Virgin Islands, Belize or Liechtenstein as the best place to hide wealth, is Delaware”.

Already last June we have pointed on this mostly overlooked fact in the ongoing hypocritical discussion on offshore banking and the witch hunt on countries like Switzerland or Liechtenstein. Learning: If you start an offshore centre and do not want to be punished you better be a superpower or at least a G-7 member.

BTW: London (yes, the capital of the other main country going after offshore centres) is ranked as 5th most secretive jurisdiction worldwide.