Tax avoidance Feed

Americans are a mobile group. We tend to move a lot. But a lot more of us are moving out of the country, and doing so for good. You've heard the proclamations. "If he's elected, I'm out of here!" Folks across the political spectrum angrily declare this intention every U.S. presidential election year. Few, however, follow through. "When I win the lottery, I'm moving to Italy." Or France or Brazil or Australia. This is my mantra. Most of the time, though, folks just take nice long vacations to those foreign locales. I promise to at least buy a second home... Read more →

French actor Gerard Depardieu is now Belgian actor Gerard Depardieu. The award-winning actor raised eyebrows last year when he decided to take up residency in Belgium after the Socialist government in his native France sought to impose a 75 percent tax rate on annual incomes over 1 million euros, or around $1.34 million U.S. Depardieu decided to move 800 yards across the French border to the village of Nechin, Belgium. It already had earned a global reputation as being the spot for French nationals disillusioned with their country. On Saturday, Aug. 24, those expatriate French got a taste of home... Read more →

I'm not here to shoot, or disparage, the messenger. And I freely admit that this is not hot off the presses info. But I just ran across it and there's a tax component, and lesson, so ... Glenn Greenwald, the reporter for The Guardian who broke the story of Edward Snowden leaking National Security Agency (NSA) documents, is working through some personal tax troubles. Click image to view Greenwald's appearance June 10, 2013, on MSNBC's Morning Joe program. The New York Daily News reported back in June that: "The New York County Clerk's office shows Greenwald has $126,000 in open... Read more →

Prince Charles is no doubt enjoying his new status as a grandfather. But the king in waiting (and waiting and waiting) has more than just the still-unnamed baby prince on his mind. Prince Charles' tax situation is under scrutiny. Parliament's public accounts committee wants to know why the Duchy of Cornwall, Charles' hereditary estate, pays no corporate tax or capital gains tax. The estate's financial statement for the year ending March 31 reported a value of £19 million, almost $29 million U.S. That was an increase of just more than 4 percent over the previous year. Charles himself does pay... Read more →

The prospect of paying millions in state taxes was a key of the reason that a giant floating oil platform ended up beached off an Alaskan island at the end of last year. The Kulluk, Shell's Arctic-class drill ship was grounded near Kodiak Island, Alaska, during bad weather on Dec. 31, 2012. Before the Kulluk settled into the shallow water, the U.S. Coast Guard sent in a helicopter to rescue the drill ship's crew. A week later, with the help of the high tide, recovery crews refloated the Kulluk and towed the conical drill ship to safe harbor at Alaska's... Read more →

The Internal Revenue Service and its leaders, past, current and now on administrative leave, got most of the public attention last week as Congressional hearings continued into how the agency screwed up reviews of applications for tax-exempt status. The agency, according to a Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) report, used "inappropriate criteria" when employees placed conservative groups, notably those affiliated with the Tea Party, on a "be on the lookout" list when it came to determining whether the organizations should be given preferable tax status. But there was another Capitol Hill look into taxes that didn't have anything... Read more →

No, the headline isn't a joke. It's part of a question considered today by Chuck Klosterman, who writes The Ethicist column for the New York Times Sunday magazine. Here's the situation: I am a tax lawyer. Is advising wealthy companies of ways to reduce their tax bills through sophisticated legal structures ethically permissible? The structures take advantage of legal loopholes in the tax legislation. NAME WITHHELD, NEW YORK Klosterman replies: The ethics of specific professions create unique realms of responsibility. In the same way that a defense attorney is ethically obligated to give his client the best possible defense —... Read more →

We may hate our tax code and paying taxes, and we definitely are not very happy with the lawmakers who devise and constantly change our tax system, but U.S. taxpayers are committed to following it. That's the finding of the Internal Revenue Service Oversight Board in its latest annual look at what taxpayers are thinking. In fact, the 2012 Taxpayer Attitude Survey notes that we're more adamant than we've been in recent years about following the tax laws. "The public attitude that it is not at all acceptable to cheat on your income taxes increased between 2011 and 2012 to... Read more →

One of the first foreign language films I ever saw was The Return of Martin Guerre. Gérard Depardieu was so great that I made it a point to see every movie he made. Heck, I even dragged the hubby to Green Card. Crazy fans like me have made the actor a very rich man. So rich, in fact, that he recently decided it was time to leave his native France for a nearby tax haven. And by nearby, I mean nearby. Depardieu has settled in Nechin, Belgium, a village just 800 yards from the French border. Not only is Nechin... Read more →

Americans are, as they should be, focusing on the presidential election that's just over two weeks away. The winner of the White House could determine what income tax rates we'll pay. But some wealthy Americans who might consider moving based on the Nov. 6 election results also should keep an eye on the electorate in Switzerland. That Alpine nation, long known as a tax haven for the wealthy from the United States and Europe, might be making tax changes that could lessen its appeal to foreign expatriates. Passport stamps by hjl via Flickr Creative Commons Swiss residents who say they've... Read more →

Federal agencies, unlike private companies, are exempt from paying federal income taxes. But like the private sector, U.S. government agencies still must make employment tax deposits and meet related tax reporting requirements. That's not happening in all cases. In fact, it's not happening to the tune of $14 million in unpaid federal agency taxes. Those millions in tax money that Uncle Sam basically owes himself comes from 70 federal agencies that were responsible for 126 tax accounts that were delinquent at the end of 2011, according to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). It gets worse. TIGTA, in... Read more →

Or you a maker or a taker? While that question isn't particularly elegant either, it's how Republicans wish Mitt Romney had phrased his secretly taped comments at a Florida fundraiser. Most American are working hard, contributing to their families' support and success. If asked the maker or taker question, they would have said there is no way they are anything like the 47 percent of nontaxpayers whom Romney dismissed as eager dependents on the federal government. But the truth is that we are all takers in some way, dependent in some fashion on Uncle Sam, especially when it comes to... Read more →

Just in case you were otherwise occupied yesterday and missed it, below is the videotape of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney writing off 47 percent of the electorate. Those Americans, Romney told a group of potential donors, won't vote for him because they're getting a sweet, nontaxpaying deal under President Obama. "My job is not to worry about those people," Mitt Romney said of the 47 percent of Americans who, according to a tax think tank study, did not pay federal income taxes in 2011. "I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives." After... Read more →

We Americans aren't the only ones watching opposing political parties duke it out over the tax burdens and responsibilities of wealthier citizens. In Great Britain, liberal and conservative politicians are having the same fight. The latest across the pond tax volley was fired by Deputy Prime Minster Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal-Democrat Party, who has proposed a one-time emergency tax on the wealth, rather than the incomes, of rich Britons. George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer (roughly the United Kingdom's Treasury Department Secretary; that's him pictured there to the right), quickly torpedoed the idea, saying such a tax would... Read more →

Great Britain is trying a new tax collection technique: Shame. Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC), the United Kingdom's equivalent of the Internal Revenue Service, wants to embarrass folks who are utilizing (or utilising if you use England's spelling) very aggressive tax shelters into paying more. The idea was sparked by revelations that many of wealthy U.K. residents are using tax loopholes to legally avoid paying HMRC. One estimate is that the country has missed out on up to 14 percent -- or around £5 billion; that's more than $7.7 billion in U.S. currency -- in uncollected taxes. Image courtesy... Read more →

The Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, or MAP-21 and also known as the Highway Investment, Job Creation, And Economic Growth Act Of 2012 (see my earlier rant about Congressional naming conventions for bills), is now awaiting Obama's signature. In addition to giving the OK for highway projects, the bill extended the national flood insurance program and, to the relief of students (and their parents) maintains for another year the 3.4 percent interest rate for federal student loans. So how will the new highway bill be paid? Per usual, Congress did some financial finagling to help cover... Read more →

Last week at my other tax blog it was all about Facebook, specifically reactions to expatriation and how it will save one new social media billionaire beaucoup taxes. Eduardo Saverin decided last year to give up his adopted U.S. citizenship and moved to Singapore. He says it was for business reasons, but the Facebook co-founder's tax expatriate strategy will save him around $67 billion in taxes. A lot of people are pounding Saverin for the move. A couple of U.S. senators even drafted a bill to make tax expatriates pay more. But is Saverin's tax move really any different than... Read more →

Home is where the heart, and tax savings, are for Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin. That home now is in Singapore. Today's Facebook initial public offering could make Saverin around $4 billion richer. By renouncing his naturalized U.S. citizenship last September and relocating to the Asian city-state, Saverin will escape an estimated $67 million Internal Revenue Service bill. While Twitter posters like The Daily Edge are having fun at Saverin's expense, some folks don't think there's anything amusing about the former U.S. citizen's tax-saving move. Targeting tax expatriates: On the eve of the IPO, Democratic Sens. Charles Schumer of New York... Read more →

Paul Hogan, better known to American moviegoers as Crocodile Dundee, and Australian tax officials have reached a settlement. Hogan and Oz tax officials have been going at each other for eight years over the $150 million in Australian currency ($156 million in the U.S. and £96 million in Great Britain) that national tax officials said the actor owed in taxes and penalties. At one point Hogan challenged Australian tax collectors to "come and get me, you miserable bastards." They didn't do that, but when Hogan returned to his native country in 2010 for his mother's funeral, officials briefly prevented him... Read more →

I'm a big fan of television, especially educational TV. No, not PBS, although I do watch Nova, Mystery and Downton Abbey. This time I'm talking about the April 13 episode of the classic TV game show Jeopardy. That day the Final Jeopardy category was word origins. The answer: An exploited part of a law, originally it meant an opening in a castle wall used to look at or shoot at an enemy. The correction question: What is a loophole? What a perfect way to close the program on the Friday before our federal tax returns were due. Tracking down tax... Read more →