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CYPRUS: OECD DOCUMENT DETAILS TO BE AGREED SOON
The Cyprus Finance Ministry and foreign taxation consultants have been attempting to find a way of eliminating harmful tax practices that will satisfy the OECD, while yet cushioning Cyprus-based offshore companies against a resulting fall in income. In other words, they are trying to square the circle.
According to the online Cyprus news service Xak.com, a draft document has been produced which pledges that the tax regime applying to locally-owned companies will apply equally to foreign-owned companies operating in Cyprus, some time before December 31, 2005. That doesn't sound much like 'cushioning'. The date is said to be flexible depending upon the time-scale of the implementation of other tax reforms currently under consideration.
Further proposals in the report include Cyprus' intention to participate in exchange of information regarding taxation issues, and transparency as regards the ownership of companies and bank accounts. Administration practices will need to be improved to facilitate information flows. Well, we knew that already: but does the Government seriously believe that offshore companies will stay if their affairs are going to be revealed wholesale to home tax authorities?More on this story here.
E.U. PRESSURES U.K. CROWN DEPENDENCIES ON TAXES
LONDON. Britain's Labour government has assured the European Union it will start negotiations with its Crown Dependencies, the ISLE of MAN and the CHANNEL ISLANDS, pressing them to impose withholding taxes on investment income paid to non-residents.More on this story here.
MANX MINISTER DEFENSIVE
DOUGLAS, Isle of Man. The Chief Minister, under attack from the right, defends his island as an exemplar of financial probity.More on this story here.
GIBRALTAR WANTS U.K. CHANGES
Gibraltar's chief minister, Peter CARUANA, confirmed government plans to defend this offshore finance center from OECD threats. He also wants constitutional changes to give more freedom from Britain.More on this story here.
U.K. PURSUES AL-FAYED BERMUDA TRUST
HAMILTON. UK Inland Revenue is investigating a Bermuda trust of Mohammed al-Fayed, billionaire Egyptian businessman and chairman of Harrods department store in London. IBCs in Panama and the British Virgin Islands are also involved.More on this story here.
BAHAMAS BANKS ARE I.R.S. AGENTS
NASSAU. The US IRS has approved Bahamian banks to act as "qualified intermediaries" collecting taxes for Washington. Why are they happy?More on this story here.
And the Bahamas are about to impose US-style "suspicious activity reporting" on all financial institutions located there.More on this story here.
CAYMANS BANKS BOOMING
GEORGE TOWN, C.I. The CI Monetary Authority says that as of June 2000, assets of all banks here totaled US$747.6 billion, a near 50% growth over the 1996 figure of US$497 billion. Banking reforms are planned.More on this story here.
WILD WEST OFFSHORE HAVEN
The American Banker reports that MONTANA is still angling to become an "offshore tax haven." The Montana Banking Board is considering a South
Pacific island nation's application to open a depository bank in Helena for foreigners who wish to hide their assets. It's the first application for a depository since the state's 1997 passage of a law permitting "offshore banks" and its approval would create the first such institution in the US. But how safe would any assets within the US really be?More on this story here and here.
SOUTH AFRICAN TAX HIT
JOHANNESBURG. South Africa's Chamber of Business wants government to scrap a proposed capital gains tax saying it will deter direct investment.More on this story here.
AN ASIAN UNION = A.U.
SINGAPORE is calling on Asia to work towards regionalism as Europeans have, to take advantage of OPPORTUNITY and meet new challenges.More on this story here.
WHY NO VIRTUAL CASH?
Logically, electronic payment should replace cash but many obstacles remain, including big banks, who don't want to lose control of their clients.More on this story here.
OFFSHORE FOR AMATEURS
Here's a sprightly little column attempting to explain "going offshore" for those who know nothing.More on this story here.
History Looks At The NSA
As anyone who watched Enemy of the State knows, the National Security Agency is a rapacious beast with an appetite for data surpassed only by its disregard for Americans' privacy.
Or is the opposite true, and the ex-No Such Agency staffed by ardent civil libertarians?
To the NSA, of course, its devilish reputation is merely an unfortunate Hollywood fiction. Its director, Lt. Gen. Michael Hayden, has taken every opportunity to say so, most recently on a History Channel documentary that aired for the first time Monday evening.
"It's absolutely critical that (Americans) don't fear the power that we have," Hayden said on the show.
He dismissed concerns about eavesdropping over-eagerness and all but said the NSA, far from being one of the most feared agencies, has become one of the most handicapped.
One reason, long cited by agency officials: Encryption. The show's producers obligingly included stock footage of Saddam Hussein, saying that the dictator-for-life has been spotted chatting on a 900-channel encrypted cell phone.
That's no surprise. The NSA, as Steven Levy documents in his new Crypto book (which the documentary overlooks), has spent the last 30 years trying to suppress data-scrambling technology through export regulations, court battles, and even personal threats.
Instead of exploring that controversial and timely subject that's tied to the ongoing debate over privacy online, "America's Most Secret Agency" instead spends the bulk of an hour on a history of cryptography starting in World War II. Most of the documentary could have aired two decades ago, and no critics are interviewed.More on this story here.
ITALY CLAMPS DOWN ON CAMPIONE D'ITALIA
The Wall Street Journal reports today (front page) that the Italian parliament has abolished as of this month long time tax breaks available only in this Italian enclave within Switzerland.More on this story here.
U.K. POLS SKIP BERMUDA CITIZENSHIP
HAMILTON, Bermuda. Labourites blame Tory politics for blocking citizenship for British overseas territories, including BERMUDA. Independence anyone?More on this story here.
CAYMANS PAPER SAYS 'ENOUGH!'
GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands. Crowing about the OECD's setback in Barbados last week, the leading newspaper here says "negotiation and accommodation must replace the OECD's dictatorial stance."More on this story here.
CARIBBEAN CLAIMS VICTORY OVER O.E.C.D.
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados. A top official says the Caribbean should feel vindicated last week's OECD meeting with blacklisted haven nations.More on this story here.
JERSEY HUNTS CORRUPT CASH
ST. HELIER, Jersey. The largest of the Channel Islands calls on financial institutions to scour their records to ensure they hold no assets on behalf of public figures involved in crime. Millions have already been found.More on this story here.
E.U. PRESSURES SWISS ON W/H TAXES
Switzerland is under renewed EU pressure to agree to withholding taxes on foreigners investment income and exchange of tax information.More on this story here.
U.S. TREASURY TARGETS TAX SHELTERS
The Treasury Department has proposed rules to kill financial incentives for lawyers, accountants and investment bankers who promote what the IRS says are abusive domestic corporate tax shelters.More on this story here and here.
SWISS EXPAT TAX RULES
ZURICH. On Jan. 1st a new set of tax rules governing expats working in Switzerland took effect. The Federal Ministry of Finance explains.More on this story here.
THE COMING WALL STREET CRASH?
Dr. Kurt Richebacher has some arresting thoughts and statistics about the coming hard landing of the US economy.More on this story here.
But economists get it wrong when it comes to predicting hard times.More on this story here.
And a down turned stock market is hurting Online brokers.More on this story here.
WHY SOME NATIONS ARE RICH
The answer is culture, according to scholars who have come to believe that social attitudes are more important than politics and economics in determining why some societies are richer than others.More on this story here.
DOWNTURN TESTS U.S. BANKS
U.S. banks are bracing themselves for trouble from their old reliables. Stocks and credit ratings of hitherto credit-worthy customers have tumbled, raising the question: how violently will the U.S. banking system be shaken.More on this story here.
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