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US GROUP ATTACKS QUALIFIED INTERMEDIARY RULES
US lobbying organisation The Centre For Freedom And Prosperity, which has been prominent in defending offshore jurisdictions against the depredations of the OECD, is also taking up the cudgels against the IRS’s new Qualified Intermediary regime, which imposes reporting and withholding requirements on banks and other financial institutions worldwide.
The CFP says that far from achieving their intended result of reducing tax evasion by Americans who place wealth offshore, the result of the new regulations will be “capital flight out of the U.S. market, less future foreign investment in the US, a loss of privacy, a reduction in national sovereignty, a reduction in international commerce, and a discriminatory burden against medium- and small-sized businesses.”
The CFP also worries that if the US insists on imposing its laws on the rest of the world, then how will it be able to resist calls for the reverse situation, when foreign countries want to impose their tax collection rules on the US?
It is true that the QI regulations are burdensome, bureaucratic and imperialistic. Also they act in a contrary direction to the tendency towards “territorial” taxation which many liberals think will be the result of globalisation and the development of the Internet. In a territorial taxation system, countries tax only income sourced on their territory or remitted to it - if applied world-wide the result would evidently be a highly competitive international fight for capital which would enormously benefit people and would tend to shrink the power of states. That is why the outgoing administration was so opposed to the idea, and why they introduced draconian, centralising legislation like the QI rules.
The CFP says that the administration has failed to perform legally-required impact assessments of the results of the QI rules: “It appears that the IRS, so far, has published no studies analyzing the risks associated with the QI regulations. More specifically, it appears that the cost/benefit analysis required by the Administrative Procedures Act has not been completed.” The CFP thinks that such a study would show how damaging the new rules will be.
The CFP’s commentary on the Qualified Intermediary rules can be found here and here.
ALL YOUR DATA (AND BUSINESS PLANS) BELONG TO MICROSOFT
With Microsoft’s HailStorm .NET initiative hinging on the company’s very own PassPort service, you would think Redmond would be bending over backwards to stress the confidentially of user information.
Well, if that is the case, it has not started yet.
As reader Ken points out, “All Your Data Belong To Us”. He is not kidding.More on this story here.
BUSHWHACKED: WE CAN ONLY HOPE!
According to a Financial Times columnist: "For those who expected a cautious start to the era of Mr. Bush Jr... [it appears] the new administration will be more radically conservative, more unilateralist and more assertive in its relations with both friends and foes than many had predicted." Let's hope that goes for the OECD, FATF and their phony anti-haven blacklist campaigns.More on this story here.
EU MAY KILL LAWYER-CLIENT PRIVILEGE
BRUSSELS. The European parliament may adopt changes to EU money laundering rules that could destroying lawyer-client privilege.More on this story here and here.
SECRET SERVICE RAIDS E-GOLD DEALER
In what may be the start of an attack on anonymous online currencies that protect users' privacy, the US Secret Service raided a New York e-gold exchanger, seizing computers, files and documents.More on this story here.
CHASING U.S. TAX CHEATS?
The US National Taxpayers Union sees many flaws in a new book that attacks so-called “tax cheats.” NTU says: “Instead of talking about the real problem and real solutions, the authors handpick a few of the very worst cases of tax abuse and use scare tactics to push for new laws and an army of IRS enforcers.”More on this story here and here.
Attacking wealthy “tax cheats” is nothing new. Forbes magazine does it regularly. For an example, see here.
Pres. Bush’s new Deputy Treasury Secretary says he too will chase tax cheats.More on this story here.
LAWSUIT HAPPY AMERICA
Along with creditors and shareholders, a third group is developing significant ownership claims on American companies: litigants.More on this story here.
OFFSHORE TAX INFORMATION
PricewaterhouseCoopers International gives you information on the taxation of foreign nationals living or working in 66 countries.More on this story here.
Ernst & Young provides similar tax information for 140 nations.More on this story here.
U.K. SPY MONEY ZOOMS
LONDON. British taxpayers are forced to spend more on spies now than during the height of the Cold War, much of it going to chase alleged money laundering.More on this story here.
OECD OPPOSITION ON THE RISE
The WALL STREET JOURNAL (Europe) says the OECD is "full of hot air" and called on Pres. Bush to deflate their phony high tax balloon.More on this story here.
BLOOMBERG News reports how US Senators and Congressmen, Right and Left, have formed an unusual bipartisan, anti-OECD coalition.More on this story here.
KINGSTON, Jamaica. CARIBBEAN governments meet to enlist Latin American governments in a concerted major anti-OECD campaign.More on this story here.
TOP 10 TAX HAVENS FOR ADVENTURE
With US Tax Day looming near, recreation and adventure travel web site http://www.gorp.com, tongue in cheek, releases its list of top 10 tax havens for adventurers who want to opt out on the IRS.More on this story here.
AMERICAN TAX SCAMS UNDER ATTACK
As US tax scams proliferate, "client" victims start to feel heat and learn bad tax advice can be dangerous to your wealth.More on this story here.
Tax scam victims testified before the US Senate on Thursday.More on this story here and here.
ALMOST HALF OF I.R.S. ANSWERS WRONG
US Treasury Dept. investigators posing as taxpayers found IRS workers gave incorrect information almost half the time.More on this story here.
SENATE HEARING ON TAX “SCAMS”
Group cries foul at not being allowed to testify.
Today's Senate hearing on tax-avoidance “scams” has sparked heated controversy among income-tax opponents, who have been excluded from testifying.
The Senate Finance Committee hearing, which begins at 10 a.m. Eastern, is intended to “educate taxpayers about tax fraud scams before the April 15 tax filing deadline,” according to the committee. Senators will also “explore ways to improve the federal governmen’qs policing of Internet-based tax schemes, scams and cons.”
As part of that education and exploration, the committee will have on hand a poster-sized version of an ad run several times in USA Today by the We The People Foundation. The ad outlines various arguments made by activists who believe the Internal Revenue Code does not require most Americans to pay income taxes or to have the taxes withheld from their paychecks. And regardless of the tax code, the 16th Amendment was fraudulently ratified, they say, so Congress has no power to tax citizens’ incomes.”
“There is strong evidence that the IRS is disobeying the laws and forcing citizens to pay taxes they are not, by law, required to pay.” said We The People Chairman Bob Schulz. “Both the IRS and Congress refuse to answer the questions and allegations raised by numerous tax researchers, based on credible evidence. We want the IRS to obey the tax laws. Researchers allege the IRS is operating the biggest hoax ever perpetrated on any people by any government.”
Explaining the background issues leading up to the hearing, which was not formally announced until late last week, the committee states: “The Internet provides an ideal venue for con artists to promote schemes aimed at tax avoidance. Both tax practitioners and the Internal Revenue Service agree that Internet-based tax fraud scams are on a sharp increase. They believe hundreds of thousands of taxpayers are either participating in these schemes or are seriously considering participating in them by receiving literature and attending seminars.”
But what exactly constitutes a tax “scam”? That is a question Schulz wants answered. Schulz -- whose request to be added to the committee's witness list was denied -- fears the committee will wrongly classify critics of the current tax system as scam artists.
The world of tax avoidance is populated by roughly two classes of people: those out to make a buck by knowingly selling misleading and even false tax information and those who genuinely seek intellectual debate on the meaning of the tax code and the validity of the 16th Amendment’s ratification. The latter group sincerely believes U.S. tax law does not require most Americans to pay income taxes and tries to make its research known to the general public. But should these people be labeled as promoters of “tax fraud scams”, which are the focus of today’s hearing?
According to the committee’s description of the hearing's scope, “Common themes for these scams are trust arrangements to illegally shelter trust incomes from taxes and other means of hiding assets. More off-beat scams include quick minister licensing to illegally claim tax benefits, as well as individuals establishing their own countries to seek to shelter assets and income.”
Committee spokeswoman Jill Gerber acknowledged the difference between the groups and said the distinction would “probably” be brought up in the hearing by one of the witnesses. But whether tax-avoidance groups are populated by scam artists or well-intentioned, intellectually honest folks grappling with the law, the result is the same, insists Gerber: People are not paying taxes they are legally required to pay. That often leads to huge financial penalties and ultimately lands tax avoiders in jail. For that reason, she said, the committee has denied We The People the opportunity to testify in person at the hearing.
“We don’t feel the need to provide a forum to a group that advocates breaking the law,” said Gerber, who noted the tax-attorney-staffed committee reviewed WTP’s material. Staff concluded the information was incorrect and determined the group is promoting “illegal efforts to avoid paying taxes.”
Income-tax opponents, including Schulz and his organization, do have the opportunity, however, to submit written statements to the committee, which will consider including the statements into the hearing record. Gerber clarified that such statements are not guaranteed inclusion into the record, since the committee does not believe it must necessarily give voice to “illegal” arguments.
Gerber also noted that WTP’s ad is not the focus of the hearing, but is merely being used to illustrate the arguments made by income-tax opponents and the venues used to promote them. The ad clearly spells out the arguments in one page, making it an ideal prop for the hearing.
Scheduled to testify at the hearing is Aaron Bazar, former seller of tax scams for the Institute for Global Prosperity who now operates a website alerting taxpayers to the scam he helped run. Other witnesses include two tax attorneys, two financial planners who keep abreast of tax scams, IRS Commissioner Charles Rossotti and two government bureaucrats.
Schulz takes exception to being lumped in with tax cheats and objects to his exclusion from the hearing's witness list.
“It is incongruous that the Senate would hold a hearing featuring our full-page ads and not invite us to testify,” he said. “They apparently have a message that they want to convey, which is [opposite] to our message. They apparently want to divert attention away from our questions of whether the IRS is collecting taxes without constitutional or statutory authority by trying to portray those who raise such questions as scammers.”
“We don’t tell anybody not to file or not to withhold taxes. We are just educating the public on the facts as we see them,” Schulz told the Glens Falls Post Star. “We’re trying to develop a critical mass of people demanding answers.”
He may have succeeded. Traditionally known as “tax protesters”, although today preferring the name “tax-honesty movement”, income-tax opponents are adding to their number every day and have now gained the attention of Congress. Though their legal arguments fail in court, they are drawing considerable attention to the income-tax system as a whole. Rossotti acknowledges the efforts of “tax protesters”, but suggests a failed attempt to prove income taxes are illegal could be replaced by a broader movement to change the current system.
“There are a lot of questions that people can raise about how the tax system in this country is structured, how the tax code is structured, but that’s why we have a democracy,” Rossotti is quoted by CBS News. “We have a Congress and everybody has the right to go talk to their congressman or senator about what they like and don’t like about the tax code.”
Calling leaders of the tax-revolt movement “foolish heroes”, tax analyst Roger Pilon of the Cato Institute said the government will ultimately win this battle. Income-tax opponents like We The People are “reading the tax law in so strained a way, and they will in time pay the price for it,” he told CBS. “But they’re heroes in the sense that they are bringing public attention to an issue that needs public attention.”More on this story here.
CITY LAWSUIT TO DEFEND COP PRIVACY: ADMINISTRATOR DEFENDS DISPUTED INTERNET SITE
Citing an invasion of employees' privacy and damage to its ability to hire and retain qualified employees, city officials are suing the author of a Web site that exposes personal information about law enforcement employees.
The city is asking King County Superior Court to shut down a Web site written by Bill Sheehan of Bothell, who compiled a list of information on Kirkland police officers and other law enforcement employees, including their Social Security numbers and home addresses.
"Their (the employees') salary, name and rank is all a matter of the public record," City Manager David Ramsay said yesterday.
"However, we believe information on private addresses, Social Security numbers and phone numbers -- particularly unlisted phone numbers -- is not."
Besides invading the privacy of employees, Ramsay said the existence of a site revealing personal information also may scare away potential future law enforcement hires.
"We run the risk of not being able to attract quality employees or having our quality employees leave," Ramsay said. He said the city has not ruled out seeking monetary damages, as well.
Sheehan's attorney, Elena Garella, told the Journal Saturday that she intends to countersue to defend her client's First Amendment rights.
Sheehan, who compiled the information but is not the administrator of the site, last night stood by the legality of the site, arguing it would be ironic for those charged with upholding the law to violate the First Amendment.
"They must defend the right for this site to exist," he said.
The site, which is not being named by the Eastside Journal, is registered to Mike Johnson, who also lists a Bothell address.
No one answered calls last night to a phone number to which the Web site is registered.
In addition to Kirkland police officers, the site also names officers in 14 other Washington cities, including Redmond, Bellevue, Clyde Hill, Snoqualmie, Bothell, Medina and Mercer Island. Criminal records of Kirkland officers as well as personal information on officers in the other cities will be posted, Sheehan said.
Ramsay said Kirkland will pursue its lawsuit aggressively to protect city employees.
"I have yet to hear anyone explain what is the public's need to know the personal information on that site," Ramsay said. "It is simply an attempt to put them (law enforcement workers) in harm's way."
Johnson disagreed, saying that lawyers have thanked him for making the information available so they can serve officers with subpoenas and court papers.
"Certainly I would feel bad if something were to happen," he told radio host Mike Webb on 710 KIRO last night, but he added that anyone who might retaliate against police officers would not need his help.
Johnson told KIRO that he put the site up to increase the accountability of law enforcement officials.
"I think it was probably years of watching stories of the bad cops and bad government officials do things and remain beyond the reach of ordinary people," he said.
"If we had a more open police department, we wouldn't have officers switching name tags at WTO," he said, referring to the 1999 clashes in Seattle.
Johnson told Webb he expects that his personal information also will become available on the Internet.
"That information, sadly, is available to people who want to look hard enough."More on this story here.
U.S. GOVERNMENT DENIES OFFSHORE FREEDOM
Here a maddening catalogue of the many obstacles the government imposes on US persons who invest offshore. And it explains why we advise: "Go way offshore!"More on this story here.
HEDGE FUNDS EXPLAINED
Hedge funds are virtually the only form of economic endeavor to have escaped government regulation, partly because they are based offshore. Another reason to "go offshore."More on this story here.
OFFSHORE MUTUAL FUNDS
Almost US$1 trillion is invested in offshore funds, nearly all of that divided between Luxembourg and Switzerland. Why? They provide privacy, impose low or no taxes, guarantee good management and experience.More on this story here.
And in England, offshore mutual funds far outpace local investment funds.More on this story here.
THE DIAMOND GAME SHEDS ITS MYSTERY
A quiet revolution is underway in diamond sales and distribution as De Beers' control slips. Interesting assessment of changes at,More on this story here.
I.R.S. ENFORCEMENT SLIPS 50%
Enforcement efforts against individual taxpayers by the US Internal Revenue Service have fallen by half or more since the early 1990's.More on this story here and here.
OFFSHORE LITIGATION INSURANCE
Here's a prepaid insurance policy that funds offshore litigation expenses, prevents freezing of offshore assets and is worded so claimants get zero.More on this story here.
C.F.P. LEADS ANTI-OECD FIGHT; NEEDS YOUR HELP
WASHINGTON, DC. The Center for Freedom and Prosperity came out of nowhere last year and has single handedly led the battle against the OECD, with great success. But now it needs your HELP!More on this story here.
CHANCE RULES THE WORLD
PARIS. Who really runs the world? Experts could argue for hours over a question like that, but France's Foreign Minister Hubert VEDRINE has a revealing answer.More on this story here.
U.S. COURTS EXTEND REACH OFFSHORE
Federal courts now approve using evidence obtained in warrantless searches abroad.More on this story here.
The US Supreme Court already approves US agents kidnapping persons in foreign countries and forcibly returning them to the US to stand trial.More on this story here.
COMBAT E-MAIL “SNIFFING”
Unauthorized gathering of e-mail information is called 'sniffing' and includes the FBI's infamous CARNIVORE.More on this story here.
Another example of sniffer software:More on this story here.
You can defeat sniffing by using a Web re-mailer. Examples here and here.
For absolute e-mail privacy we recommend Freedom Internet Privacy Suite 2.0. For information, see,More on this story here.
GOVERNMENTS TURN SCREWS ON CFC’S
Controlled foreign corporations were designed to keep profits offshore and relatively untaxed. OECD busybody bureaucrats want to stop that.More on this story here.
MONEY LAUNDERING NEWS
We often slam the excesses of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). But here's their detailed definition of money laundering.More on this story here.
Are you unknowingly laundering money? Here's how to tell,More on this story here.
A.C.L.U. TARGETS OFFICIAL CYBER SNOOPS
To expose Echelon, the worldwide electronic spy network, the American Civil Liberties Union launches a major campaign against government cyber-snooping.More on this story here.
TOP 10 REASONS TO GO OFFSHORE IN 2000
OFFSHORE TAX SCARE TIME
The Los Angeles Times just noticed that the IRS is cracking down on the use of offshore bank accounts to evade income taxes.More on this story here.
If you have a dirty secret about an offshore trust, FORBES says it may not be too late to fess up and avoid prison. Very interesting!More on this story here.
And Forbes claims the IRS still does not have those Caribbean bank credit card records[s] ordered by a Miami US Court to be turned over.More on this story here.
And watch out for Internet tax fraud schemes. They're everywhere!More on this story here.
O.E.C.D. ILLOGIC EXPOSED
JERSEY's Edmund BENDELOW, head of the Offshore Institute, rips the hide off the OECD's economic ignorance.More on this story here.
VADUZ. The Economics minister explains why the principality provides an example of outstanding free market economic freedom.More on this story here.
US INTERNAL REVENUE -- FEEBLE OR FIERCE?
As US annual tax day passes, the IRS is said to be a weak sister forgiving (thank you!) $2.5 billion in back taxes,More on this story here.
And also ready to put the audit screws to many more ordinary Americans.More on this story here.
On average, Americans must work until May 3 this year to pay their taxes. After that, what's left is theirs.More on this story here.
NESTMANN’S NEW COMPUTER PRIVACY REPORT
Use a PC to surf the Net & you leave a trail of semi-deleted files and "cookies" that gives those who know where to look a detailed picture of the sites and newsgroups you visit, files you create and a lot more. Here's a new report that reveals practical strategies to protect your PC & Net privacy with Windows-based total file deletion, easy encryption, how to use PGP and steganography (hidden files) and much more. Protect your PC privacy! Click here now,More on this story here.
BAHAMAS FINANCIAL TURMOIL INTENSIFIES
NASSAU. Business and financial leaders finally admit the major damage done to the islands financial sector by hasty new laws designed to appease the OECD and the FATF.More on this story here.
A TEXAS VIEW OF OFFSHORE
Texas lawyers view the IRS crack down on offshore trust scams.More on this story here.
AMERICAN HIGH EARNERS TAX HIT
Amity Shales explains how and why top US earners (who pay most taxes) get hit hardest by the US tax system.More on this story here.
There's a direct correlation between where IRS audits occur and the districts of Members of Congress who oversee the IRS.More on this story here.
More about the valuable US "Foreign Earned Income Exclusion".More on this story here.
OFFSHORE CREDIT CARD PROBLEMS
A look at why the IRS wants Caribbean bank credit card records from MasterCard and Amex.More on this story here.
HOW BANKS DETECT MONEY LAUNDERING
Pinstripe suits instead of stripes on prison suits.More on this story here.
EU GOES GLOBAL AS PATTEN CHASES SUPERPOWER ROLE
The European Union is to boost its role as global policeman under plans proposed in Brussels yesterday, using its power as the world's biggest aid donor to shape the international scene.
Chris Patten, the European external affairs commissioner, said the EU must develop a "tool kit" to nip conflicts in the bud and to raise its profile around the world. "We should try to ensure that our political influence comes nearer to matching our economic weight," he said. It now plans an "early-warning system" for potential trouble spots, a campaign of anti-drug actions, tough controls on the arms trade, and measures to stop the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.
The initiative is unrelated to plans already being developed by the European Commission for a Rapid Reaction Force, which would be under the control of EU ambassadors meeting in a separate set of buildings in Brussels. The EU also has access to up to 5,000 police to help to restore order in volatile regions such as the Balkans. Mr Patten's remit is limited to the EU's £7 billion annual aid budget, which he is using to spearhead an activist foreign policy.
When the national aid programmes of the 15 member states are included, the EU provides 55 per cent of the world's development aid and 66 per cent of outright grants. Mr Patten yesterday dismissed suggestions that Brussels was attempting to dominate global affairs, challenging America on a broad range of issues far beyond Europe's borders. "We're not seeking a hegemonistic role," he said.
Washington is uneasy over the EU's decision to send a mission to North Korea next month to promote the Communist nation's dialogue with South Korea. The Bush administration, which still deploys large numbers of troops on the Korean border, is treating the dictatorship in the North as a dangerous, nuclear-armed pariah.More on this story here.
IRS IN LOSING BATTLE AGAINST INTERNET TAX FRAUDSTERS
Late last week, the IRS Oversight Board, a Congressional body which supervises the US tax collection agency, said inadequate financing was preventing the IRS from going after delinquent tax-payers - and by coincidence, on the same day Senator Chuck Grassley (Rep. Iowa), head of the Senate's tax-writing committee, warned Americans to steer clear of hundreds of web sites promoting illegal online tax-evasion. The tax scammers, who operate year-round, use lines such as "The IRS is weak -- play the audit lottery" and "It's your 'right' not to pay taxes" to attract unsuspecting taxpayers, according to the committee.
It's not really a coincidence, because Americans are nearing their annual deadline for filing tax returns.
"Tax scams are as old as the tax code," said Mr. Grassley. "The internet is giving them new life."
At a recent hearing, the committee learned that hundreds of thousands of Americans are involved knowingly or otherwise in internet-based tax scams.
Mr Grassley has a checklist taxpayers can use to avoid doubtful schemes. For instance, he says, watch out for these favourite pitch lines: "If this were illegal, don't you think the government would arrest me? It hasn't." "Taxes are 'voluntary'. Smart people will not volunteer to pay." "Taxes are unconstitutional. The 16th Amendment was never ratified." "Rich people save money on their taxes with this plan; so can you." "Disguise your income on tax forms. You can't be caught by IRS computers."
The committee recommends that any proposed tax-saving scheme should be checked out by an accountant or tax attorney. The IRS also has a list of warning signs: a promise to reduce or eliminate income and self-employment tax; deductions for personal expenses paid by the trust; depreciation deductions on an owner's personal residence and furnishings; high fees for trust packages, to be offset by promised tax benefits; use of back-dated documents; lack of an independent trustee; and use of post office boxes for trust addresses.More on this story here.
SOFTWARE BOOTS ONLINE ADS OFF PC’S
As online advertisers get more aggressive, so do efforts to block them.
Ad-blocking software, which makes online advertisements disappear from consumers' screens, has been available for several years. But it's just now becoming both powerful and easy to use, analysts say.
Webwasher.com, a spin-off of German electronics giant Siemens, already has more than 4 million worldwide users. Last week, it finished staffing a New York office as it seeks to boost its presence among U.S. consumers.
Webwasher is "the most dangerous piece of software in the world" for the publishing industry, contends Jason McCabe Calacanis, editor of the Silicon Alley Daily. "When the music industry had to deal with Napster, I never realized how conflicted technology can make an executive's life .... I love Webwasher .... but as a publisher, I know it is a very dangerous proposition."
Software maker InterMute, which has an ad-blocking software program named AdSubtract, last year signed a deal with Zoom Telephonics, which makes Zoom and Hayes modems, to include AdSubtract with modems.
New companies continue to get into the game. New Jersey start-up, Guidescope, is currently testing software similar to Webwasher.
Madison Avenue insists that the ad-blocking programs are not a threat. "They're not going to be that prevalent," says Gerard Broussard, a director for advertising firm Ogilvy & Mather. He says most users won't bother to install the software.
"There have been various attempts to get rid of advertising forever, like TV remote controls. It's never meant the end of advertising," agrees Catharine Taylor, the interactive editor of Advertising Age.
Others aren't so sure. Somewhat savvy PC users can install the programs in less than 15 minutes. The software filters ads from reaching consumers' screens similar to the way anti-virus software filters viruses.
Calacanis, for one, predicts that ad-blocking software which is free to home users will become commonplace in the next year, even if it doesn't come pre-installed on tech gadgets. In Europe, Webwasher.com has 1,000 corporate customers who install it on central servers connected to workers' PCs.
The software also comes with another benefit: Because it blocks ads, it makes Web pages load faster. "It does a lot for my speed," says AdSubtract user Tim Kelly from Acton, Mass.
Demand for the software, analysts say, will grow as online sites put up more ads. In recent months, popular sites such as CNET and Salon have begun featuring larger ads as a response to falling advertising rates.
The Interactive Advertising Bureau, a trade group, also began advocating larger ads in February. “Banner ads are not a technology that is going to survive,” says Horst Joepen, CEO of Webwasher.com, which sells Webwasher.More on this story here.
IRS PREDICTS INCREASE IN AUDITS
An infusion of money and improved technology will begin to reverse the decline in Internal Revenue Service audits, which agency chief Charles Rossotti says are essential to ensure compliance. But he has a warning for those tempted to cheat.
"This is really not a good path for the average taxpayer," Rossotti said Wednesday in an interview with The Associated Press. "If you want to make bets, your odds would be better to go to a casino."
Less than a week before Monday's tax filing deadline, Rossotti said that, like millions of other taxpayers, he is asking for the automatic four-month extension to finish his return and that his taxes are done by an accountant.
Unlike most people, Rossotti gets audited every year.
"That's one of the privileges of being commissioner," he said with a grin. "I really do want to file an accurate tax return."
Last year, the percentage of audited returns fell to below one-half of 1 percent, which Rossotti blamed on tight budgets over the past five years and lack of money to replace antiquated Internal Revenue Service computers.
President Bush is asking Congress for a $580 million increase for the IRS for fiscal 2002, mainly for technology and to continue hiring about 4,000 in additional staff, in part to beef up enforcement.
"Continuing to drop, year after year, would not be a sound thing," Rossotti said. "We have to have a certain amount of compliance activity."
But audits, the IRS chief added, represent only one of many ways the IRS checks returns for cheaters. Computers match taxpayer documents with those provided by banks, employers and other sources for accuracy. Even neighbors can be a source for the agency.
"You'd be surprised how many people tell us about other people who don't fill out accurate returns," he said.More on this story here.
EUROPE VIEWS THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION
"Aggressively conservative and free-market, pro-business and anti-regulatory at home, assertively unilateralist abroad, it makes no secret of its unyielding faith in the American way, and seems to brook no compromise with alternatives."More on this story here.
GREEK POLICE STATE?
ATHENS. “Fighting terrorists”, Greece abolishes jury trials, mandates DNA testing, and imposes surveillance on citizens.More on this story here.
£6 BILLION SHIP OF DREAMS
GLASGOW, Scotland. Developers of a giant floating tax haven that would be the world's biggest ship say construction starts soon.More on this story here.
DUAL PASSPORTS CAN SAVE YOUR LIFE
Chris KALIN, explains how a second passport can save your life and tells you if you qualify.More on this story here.
And they can help avoid border crossings from Hell, like these,More on this story here.
I.R.S. TAX RAIDS CONTINUE
Kansas tax advisors are hit with a massive raid, $9 million forfeiture.More on this story here.
U.S. POLICE USE SECRET EVIDENCE
The US Supreme Court allows police to use secret evidence to obtain arrest warrants and wiretap phones and computers.More on this story here.
BIG BROTHER STILL WEB WATCHING
US government Web sites continue to track browsing habits of Internet users despite rules that ban such activity.More on this story here.
O.E.C.D LAID BARE
In one of the best commentaries on the OECD’s world tax plans we have seen, Paul Craig Roberts lays it on the line. A must read!More on this story here.
THE ULTIMATE AMERICAN TAX HAVEN?
What if the Nation's Capital imposed no income taxes?More on this story here.
LEMIEUX ON FREE TRADE
Pierre Lemieux, professor of economics at the U. of Quebec, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece says "Free Trade Doesn't Require Treaties."More on this story here.
CELL PHONES TO HAVE LOCATION-TRACKING BY 2005
By 2005, the government will be able to track you down through your cell phone.
Cell-phone manufacturers are under a federal mandate to equip mobiles with location-tracking technology beginning this October. By 2005, 95 percent of all cell phones must be able to be traced with an accuracy of about 1,000 feet or better.
While such phones could be lifesavers in an emergency, the order from the Federal Communications Commission has raised serious questions about invasion of privacy.
"For most people, it’s a very scary proposition that the government can use not only your mobile phone but your Palm Pilots ... and any other mobile device to track your every movement," said attorney Albert Gidari, of the Perkins and Coie law firm in Seattle.
Making mobile phones capable of tracking users' locations will involve planting GPS chips in the handsets or installing new infrastructure in cell sites.
Cellular providers plan commercial uses for the technology, such as getting directions if someone is lost, finding nearby restaurants or locating family members and friends who have gotten separated in a crowd.
"Wireless operators already know where consumers are by virtue of the fact that the phone is on," pointed out Ken Arneson, the chief strategy officer at Telecommunication Systems, a provider of the location-tracking technology. "What’s different here is that now carriers are looking to commercialize that and need to do that to offset the cost of putting this technology in place."More on this story here.
RIGHTS GROUP SLAMS PLANS FOR DNA DATABASE
A politician's suggestion to take mandatory DNA samples from Australians at birth was described as police state tactics by a civil libertarian today.
Federal Liberal MP Peter Lindsay has called for mandatory DNA samples to be taken from all Australians, starting with newborn babies, to further empower law enforcement agencies in view of the growing incidence of crime in Australia.
Providing a DNA sample should also be a condition of entry to the country, he said.
However, Australian Council of Civil Liberties president Terry O'Gorman criticised the proposal.
"Nowhere else in the world does any government, even dictatorships, have a system where DNA is collected at birth, blood is taken from you compulsorily at birth and handed over to the police," he told ABC Radio.
"If that isn't police state tactics then I don't know what is."
Senior law enforcement officers have strongly supported Mr. Lindsay's position.
New DNA database legislation passed through the Senate last month allowing for the collection and storage of electronic profiles from DNA samples to be added to the Commonwealth's CrimTrac national database system.More on this story here.
Most of us hardly notice the surveillance cameras watching over the grocery store or the bank. But lately those lenses have been looking for far more than shoplifters.
Engineers at IBM's Almaden Research Center in San Jose, CA, report that a number of large retailers have implemented surveillance systems that record and interpret customer movements, using software from Almaden's BlueEyes research project. BlueEyes is developing ways for computers to anticipate users' wants by gathering video data on eye movement and facial expression. Your gaze might rest on a Web site heading, for example, and that would prompt your computer to find similar links and to call them up in a new window. But the first practical use for the research turns out to be snooping on shoppers.
BlueEyes software makes sense of what the cameras see to answer key questions for retailers, including, How many shoppers ignored a promotion? How many stopped? How long did they stay? Did their faces register boredom or delight? How many reached for the item and put it in their shopping carts? BlueEyes works by tracking pupil, eyebrow and mouth movement. When monitoring pupils, the system uses a camera and two infrared light sources placed inside the product display. One light source is aligned with the camera's focus; the other is slightly off axis. When the eye looks into the camera-aligned light, the pupil appears bright to the sensor, and the software registers the customer's attention.
BlueEyes has set off warning bells at the American Civil Liberties Union. "Soon you won't only be able to capture how many people stopped by, but who they were," says Barry Steinhardt, associate director of the ACLU. "Once identity is established it will be cross-referenced to capture that person's income and buying preferences. It's only a matter of time." Not surprisingly, IBM's retail customers unanimously requested that the firm not reveal their names to the press, or the locations where BlueEyes has been implemented.More on this story here.
EXPATRIATES’ REAL WORLD
This survey describes what expats and their families face abroad.More on this story here.
PAY TAX OR CONSEQUENCES
The Chicago Tribune tells Yanks what to expect if you are caught offshore without reporting income or paying your taxes to the IRS.More on this story here.
TUNE UP YOUR U.S. ESTATE PLAN
Don't wait for possible US estate tax changes, plan now and save.More on this story here.
Surprise! The International Monetary Fund is against it.More on this story here.
A.C.L.U. TARGETS FORFEITURE
NEW YORK. Saying civil asset forfeiture laws give US police a license to steal, the American Civil Liberties Union launches a new attack against law enforcement abuse.More on this story here.
INSIDE THE N.S.A.
A new book tries to bare all at the US National Security Agency.More on this story here.
TONY BLAIR'S POLICE STATE GROWS
LONDON. British police continue their push for a global "data trap" of all communications that pass through the country.More on this story here.
The UK police demand secret wiretaps be admissible as evidence of crime. Their excuse? Fight organized crime!More on this story here.
I.R.S. - PROTECTOR OF THE PEOPLE?
WASHINGTON. Have the US tax collectors become a bastion of privacy protection for taxpayers? NOT!More on this story here.
PLAN TO HIDE
Scientists are working to make you anonymous on the Net.More on this story here.
SHANGHAI NO THREAT TO HONG KONG
A first for us - we quote from the China Peoples Daily.More on this story here.
OFFICIAL U.S. TAXPATRIATES LISTS
The term "taxpatriate," a US citizen who renounces citizenship in order to avoid payment of taxes, may have been invented by Forbes magazine.More on this story here.
By law the IRS publishes quarterly lists of those who abandon US citizenship for any reason. For names and interesting articles on this subject go, here.
Global living options; immigration, residence, work permits.More on this story here.
Comparative tax burdens for expats living or working in 66 countries.More on this story here.
NON-EXTRADICTABLE ROBBER RETURNS?
After 35 years on the run, an ill Ronnie BIGGS is asking British Police to let him come home to the UK. The Great Train Robber's surrender would end an extraordinary period in which he has beaten every UK attempt to extradite him from BRAZIL where he lives.More on this story here.
Could YOU be extradited from abroad by the USA police? Find out at here.
A UK lawyer provides an excellent possible scenario for what may be the offshore future. (It's not too bad!)More on this story here.
International tax attorney Bruce Zagaris rips the camouflage off the OECD so-called "harmful tax competition" drive.More on this story here.
Amity Shales tells us why tax havens shelter everyone.More on this story here.
But her Financial Times colleague says: Sell out to the OECD.More on this story here.
Reason magazine vigorously takes on "The Tax Haven Haters."More on this story here.
The American Spectator roundly denounces "The Taxman's Union."More on this story here.
Richard Rahn explains why we are not friends of tax evaders.More on this story here.
Pacific tax haven nations stand up to the OECD.More on this story here and here.
A false, OECD planted story?More on this story here.
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