January- March 2017
Dear WTA Members, Observers, and Friends:
Happy New Year! Hope this finds you well, rested, and ready for 2017.
WTA Secretary General: Changing of the Guard
I’m pleased to announce the appointment of Cristina Berechet as the new Secretary General of World Taxpayers Associations (WTA). Cristina will join WTA in a part-time capacity working from Spain effective immediately. Cristina is currently General Manager of the Spanish Taxpayers Union which she joined in 2016. However, many of you may better remember her with the Spanish think tank Civismo where she served for five years. I’ve had the great pleasure to know Cristina for some time as a thoughtful and important leader in our movement. I’m delighted that she has agreed to join us and look forward to working with her in growing taxpayer advocacy around the world. Please join me in welcoming her. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Of course in saying all of this I was sad to receive an e-mail before Christmas from our current Secretary General Sarah Elliott announcing her intention – for personal reasons – to step down early in 2017. Sarah joined us shortly after the Vancouver conference in 2014 and, alongside chairman Staffan Wennberg, completely rebooted the organization. From a new website, social media presence, administrative practices, strategic plans, budgets, funding proposals and of course events … Sarah had a patient and capable hand in all of it. Thank-you also for the many WTA friends you and your husband Matthew hosted in London. Please join me in sending Sarah a thank-you firstname.lastname@example.org.
Regional Taxpayers Forum Zagreb Croatia April 24-25, 2017
The first of two WTA-sponsored Regional Taxpayer Forums in 2017 will take place in Zagreb, Croatia April 24-25. We are pleased to be working with hosts Lipa and Free Market Road Show (FMRS). FMRS will lead proceedings the morning of April 24. Registration for the event is not yet posted, but we ask that anyone interested please pre-register here as there are only 35 spots available and the event will sell out on a first come, first serve basis. Please note, there is no cost for WTA Members who have paid their dues for 2017 (invoices to go out shortly). Any matters concerning the event should be directed to Cristina. We look forward to welcoming you in Zagreb in April. A date for our next Regional Taxpayers Forum in Bangkok will be confirmed in my next Update.
2017 Member Fees Now Due
Invoices for 2017 WTA member fees will be sent out this month. Please note that events like the Regional Taxpayer Forums are free to paid WTA Members. Our ability to support networking, events, social media, our website and newsletter are all dependent on membership dues, so thank-you in advance for your ongoing support! This year we will provide a formal letter of membership embossed with an official WTA seal as per the request of some Member organizations.
A Visit Down Under
I was pleased to be hosted by our friends on a trip to New Zealand and Australia in November. Very special thanks to New Zealand Taxpayers Union, Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance, Taxpayers Australia, Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance and the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA). IPA kindly sponsored a talk I gave in Sydney. Australia will host the next World Taxpayers Conference so it was good to meet with our friends well in advance to make sure we’re supporting the best event possible.
(L to R) WTA Chair Troy Lanigan with Jo Holmes and Carmel Claridge of the
Auckland Ratepayers Alliance and Jordan Williams of the
New Zealand Taxpayers Union on Waiheke Island
Meeting with the Board of Directors of Taxpayers Australia who will be the
hosts of the 2019 World Taxpayers Conference. (L to R): Moti Kshirsagar (CEO),
Robert Krigsman, Troy Lanigan, Mark Dodds (President), Stephen Ware
and Terry Blenkinsop.
Meeting with Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance Executive Director Tim Andrews
in Sydney, Australia.
A ‘Lobbyist for Taxpayers’
Congratulations to WTA Executive Committee Member and President of the National Taxpayers Union, Pete Sepp, who earned a significant profile in the US newspaper, The Hill. The profile comes at an important juncture for tax policy in the United States.
“Pete Sepp started working at the National Taxpayers Union (NTU) in 1988 as a receptionist … Today — as Congress gears up to overhaul the tax code for the first time in more than 30 years — he’s the group’s president.” The article goes on to state: “Pete is just remarkably good about being the good guy when he agrees with you, and when he doesn’t agree with you.”
Well deserved praise for one of the most important taxpayer leaders in the world. Please read the full profile here.
Tax Reform Happening in Eastern Europe
Ukraine: Maryan Zablotskyy, President of the Ukrainian Economics Freedom Foundation (UEFF) reports the Ukrainian Parliament adopted UEFF recommended changes to the tax code, which are expected to be adopted in this year’s State Budget Law.
One of the recommendations allows producers of grapes to set up their own wine production. Previously, the law allowed wine only to be made by the producers of cognac. This created a monopoly allowing cognac producers to dictate the price for grapes.
Now, if grape producers don’t receive a price they are happy with they will be able to produce their own wine. Increased levels of economic freedom will be a boost for the southern regions of Ukraine.
Croatia: The government’s recently-announced tax reform which includes lower personal and business incomes taxes is expected to stimulate private spending and economic growth.
Lipa’s Krunoslav Saric says, “We finally have a [Finance Minister] who understands … with these changes more than half of employees in Croatia will have 0% income tax.”
An article discussing the changes can be found here.
Another positive indicator is falling public debt in Croatia. Saric notes: “we had major campaigns during the last two elections and I think we can take full credit for pushing that problem into the public spotlight and reversing the trend.”
Taxpayer Protection Alliance: United States
Drew Johnson from the Taxpayer Protection Alliance was kicked out of a United Nations meeting stating: “My crime? Being a journalist at a taxpayer-funded meeting where government representatives from 180 countries make decisions that impact 90 percent of the world’s population.” You can read the entire article here. The video can be viewed here.
“One thing that wasn’t recorded was the applause I received from several other journalists … I know my actions reflect thousands of journalists across the globe who feel the UN and its agencies have become unaccountable to the public and combative towards the press.”
The Tax Revolution Institute: United States
We are pleased to welcome a new taxpayer protection group in the United States called The Tax Revolution Institute. They are backing a project to audit the IRS. Check it out here.
Taxpayers Alliance Ghana: Ghana
Taxpayers Alliance Ghana (TAG) president Frank Asiedu issued a statement congratulating new president of Ghana Nana Addo Danquah Akuffo Addo. TAG implores the incoming president to make good on his business-friendly tax proposals. TAG will work collaboratively with the government to implement tax regimes that will spur growth and create jobs for the youth of Ghana.
Momentum 107: Hong Kong
Congratulations to Raymond Ho and Momentum 107 on their celebration in December, commemorating nine years as a successful and vibrant organization in Hong Kong!
The Taxpayers Union of Bulgaria: Bulgaria
Congratulations to Nikolay Popov and the Taxpayers Union of Bulgaria that celebrated 25 years in December!
Slovenian Taxpayers Association: Slovenia
Slovenian Taxpayer Association’s Marusa Pozvek (right) was honoured to be invited and to participate in the Liberty Fund Colloquium hosted by Federico Fernandez of the Austrian Economics Center in Vienna. The invitation-only event uses the Socratic method to discuss the relationship between freedom, markets, and culture.
Lithuanian Free Market Institute: Lithuania
In high schools across the world, most students graduate without any exposure to the concepts of market economics. The Lithuanian Free Market Institute (LFMI), based in Vilnius, sought to change that by developing its Economics in 31 Hours textbook, which was awarded the prestigious $100,000 Templeton Freedom Award this past November. The award, generously supported by the Templeton Religion Trust, was presented during Atlas Network’s Freedom Dinner this past November in New York City.
Congratulations to Žilvinas Šilėnas and his colleagues at the Lithuanian Free Market Institute! See the video here.
Human Freedom Index: Where Does Your Country Stand?
The Human Freedom Index 2016 presents the state of human freedom in the world based on a broad measure that encompasses personal, civil, and economic freedom. Co-published by the Cato Institute, the Fraser Institute, and the Liberales Institut at the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom.
Human freedom is a social concept that recognizes the dignity of individuals and is defined here as negative liberty or the absence of coercive constraint. Because freedom is inherently valuable and plays a role in human progress, it is worth measuring carefully. The Index can be found here.
The Decline of Global Inequality: Bjorn Lomborg
A thoughtful and counter-intuitive piece asking if 2016 was the best year ever?
Africa Research Institute: 10 Things to Watch in 2017
Many members have asked about creating and formatting annual reviews for your respective supporters and donors. Here are two really good examples of how it’s done:
UK’s Taxpayers’ Alliance: http://www.taxpayersalliance.com/annual_reviews
New Zealand’s Taxpayers’ Union: http://www.taxpayers.org.nz/tags/annual_review
In closing I’d like to encourage everyone to please visit our website and our Facebook group. Our community is only as strong and as beneficial as we choose to make it. Please work with our new Secretary General Cristina Berechet to feed good content into our network.
Keep up the fight!
Chair, World Taxpayers Associations
President, Canadian Taxpayers Federation
E-mail | email@example.com
Skype | troy_lanigan
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Global coalition working to protect intellectual property rights
The Hibernian Forum is part of an international coalition working to protect intellectual property rights globally. In July, it was a signatory to an international coalition letter on intellectual property (IP) sent by the Property Rights Alliance, based in Washington DC. The letter had 85 signatories from 51 countries.
This is a very exciting time for the IP debate around the world and the PRA believes that common international action is necessary to protect IP, the rule of law fundamental for our freedom of expression, innovation, and the economic growth of our respective economies.
The international letter, to Director General Dr. Francis Gurry of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). Link below :
Letter from the Chairman, no 12
Stockholm July 30th 2015
Dear members and friends of the World Taxpayers Associations!
The world economic interest has quickly changed from Greece to China. For a while “everyone” was an expert on Greece and what had gone wrong. Most agreed that the Euro had been a “quick fix” which felt good for a bit and then backfired when the initial effect wore off. Few comments went in depth to actually also see what measures for instance the international banking interests had contributed to get Greece into such deep trouble.
Now the focus is on China and slower growth than the projected 7% for this year. The general growth in Asia is still high – projected at 5.5 %, but over the next two years India is thought to be growing faster than China as China settles after the real estate bubble and is gradually – in spite of rapid stock exchange shifts – going into more stable growth pattern. The Shanghai stock exchange is in free fall – after having increased by 100% in a year! Few realise this exchange is primarily an internal Chinese exchange, with the major international trading done in Hong Kong where the effect is not so dramatic.
Japanese for Tax Reform Launch “Children’s Day” in addition to “Tax Freedom Day”
Many in our network of taxpayer groups have the last two months published the ”Tax Freedom Day” for their country – the day when a normal family or worker has finish paying all his taxes for the year and is finally working for his own benefit. In Japan this date was the 5th of June. Mr. Hiroshi Yoshida and Mr. Masaru Uchiyama (Mr. You) of the Japanese for Tax Reform have added a ”Children’s Day” to also include the government spending of borrowed money on top of the tax money – in effect taxes deferred to our children to pay. In Japan this day is as late as July 5th compared with the Tax Freedom Day of June 5th! WTA is trying to summarize and publish the Tax Freedom Days for as many countries as possible, so do send us your day!
Georgia – a tax example for other countries!
The country of Georgia has made great changes in the tax system – 22 taxes have become just 6, a flat tax has been introduced and perhaps most importantly the social security tax formerly paid from the employers directly has been added and merged with the income tax so it is visible and not hidden. The actions have been effective, reducing the combined taxes on income in two steps from 32 to 25 and now 20 % flat tax. Corruption has been greatly reduced by doing away with hundreds of import regulations and a complicated customs process. Bjorn Tarras-Wahlberg, former Secretary General of WTA and Chairman of the Asia Pacific Taxpayers have written an article for one of the major Swedish newspapers on these developments. We know our thoughtful and highly regarded Georgian taxpayer advocates have had a great part in achieving these changes. We will add an English translation to our web page.
Practical ideas and experiences on our web page
Our members section on the web page now includes a number of links and examples.
Go to Resources on the Members Area page:
You will find a number of useful sub sections:
Fundraising Tips: http://worldtaxpayers.org/
How to Start a Group: http://worldtaxpayers.org/
Marketing Tips: http://worldtaxpayers.org/
Tax Facts: http://worldtaxpayers.org/
as well as previous editions of the Letter from the Chairman
and the newsletter Taxpayer Leaders Forum.
We will continue to develop this and so do send us your ideas and experiences.
For now, the Members Area is the username and password is wta2015
WTA on Facebook
WTA now has a closed Facebook page, to facilitate exchange of ideas and communication. I think this venue can very useful as we add spontaneous comments and information. https://www.facebook.com/
Kevin Gentry, the American direct marketing guru, recommends Al Reis’ and Jack Trout’s book Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind. It is already a marketing classic on the key aspect of communication, advertising and marketing. Here is a link to Amazon where you can read more. http://www.amazon.com/
One quote from the book:
People who depend on communication for their livelihood know the necessity of oversimplification. You should look for the solution not inside the product, not even inside your own mind. The solution to your problem is inside the prospect’s mind.
Quote of the month
Two quotes from the world of sports:
“It is hard to beat a person who never gives up.” – Babe Ruth, Member of the U.S. National Baseball Hall of Fame
Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships” – Michael Jordan, U.S. Basketball Hall of Fame Member
Chairman World Taxpayers Associations
Phone+ 46 708 15 04 95
We Told You So: Ireland to Extend Plain Packaging to Alcohol
Message from the Taxpayers Protection Alliance, Washington DC
Back in May at the European Resource Bank meeting, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance co-hosted a reception with the Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance and the Property Rights Alliance where we talked about plain packaging of tobacco products and the potential for the next product to be alcohol. Well, it looks like we were right. Ireland is now considering plain packaging for alcohol. There are times when you are right but you don’t want to be. Here is TPA’s latest blog on the issue.
We Told You So: Ireland to Extend Plain Packaging to Alcohol
Sometimes being able to say “I told you so” isn’t a victory, especially when the prediction would have a negative impact on taxpayers and consumers. The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) has been sounding the alarm on various attempts by governments around the globe to institute plain packaging policies for tobacco. Many times those warnings have also come with the expressed concern that these types of policies would be just the beginning of far more aggressive attempts to regulate the packaging of other products like alcohol and sugary foods. Unfortunately, that prediction appears to have been correct, at least in the case of Ireland with their desire to plain package alcohol.
In March of this year, Ireland became the first country in Europe, and the second country in the world, to adopt plan packaging for tobacco products. The official adoption of plain packaging in Ireland was a major loss for intellectual property, taxpayers, and preventing further illicit trade and black market activity of tobacco products (read previous blog postings here and here).
Now, only a few months later, it appears that Ireland may try and expand the policy to include alcohol. A reportfrom the Joint Committee on Health & Children details their plan:
Alcohol product labelling
The Committee supports Head 5 of the General Scheme. Alcohol labelling should be treated in a similar fashion to tobacco legislation, to include the following:
- Clear health warnings to be included on alcohol products, indicating that alcohol causes disease;
- The Minister should also consider ensuring that warnings be given prominence with an emphasis on visual, graphic designs for maximum effect;
- Labelling should be standardised, taking into account best practice on design guidelines;
- Labelling should include sufficient information on alcohol content in grams, standard drink size, and relate this to recommended maximum weekly consumption;
- A complementary public awareness campaign should be run to clearly explain labelling to the public.
Irish taxpayers could be on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars if these new regulations are passed. American businesses could be saddled with millions of dollars in compliance costs, meaning less revenue and more potential for layoffs which would hurt the U.S. economy.
Chris Passarelli, Senior Intellectual Property Counsel at Dickenson, Peatman & Fogarty, noted key concerns from the industry and how plain packaging would be a extremely damaging:
In response to this development, there are major concerns coming from the alcohol beverage industry, that the institution of plain packaging requirements will create a hostile environment giving rise to counterfeiting and consumer fraud, both in domestic and import/export markets, particularly in the premium liquor space.
The concerns given above regarding criminal activity are something that TPA has continually stressed when talking about plain packaging. A KPMG report showed the consequences of Australia implementing plain packaging in 2012:
- The overall level of tobacco consumption in Australia was approximately 17.7 million kilograms in the full year 2013 (higher than in 2012 & half-year 2013)
- Illegal consumption increased to 13.9% of total consumption (higher than in 2012 & half-year 2013)
The fight against plain packaging continues to be an uphill battle and advocates who care about intellectual property and protecting taxpayers must be vigilant against new threats from governments looking to institute plan packaging of any kind.
Australia has seen disastrous results and now Ireland want to replicate those results, but tobacco appears to bejust the tip of the iceberg on this attack against intellectual property. Consumers, taxpayers, and big and small businesses lose out when plain packaging regulations are implemented.
Taxpayers Protection Alliance
1401 K Street, NW
Office: (202) 930-1716
Mobile: (202) 258-6527
LOW CORPORATE TAX CREATES JOBS AND ECONOMIC GROWTH
In December, the Hibernia Form co-hosted a presentation in Dublin on international tax by the Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) in Washington DC. The ATR focused on the low corporate tax rate in Ireland compared to elsewhere and in particular in the US. They argued that companies are being over taxed in many places, and especially in the US, thus driving such business overseas and creating phenomena like ‘inversion’ and the ‘double Irish’ and the Luxembourg situation.
Press coverage :
US lobby pleads with Ireland to keep business-friendly taxes
by Colm Kelpie 13/12/2014 | 02:30
OPEN GALLERY 1US President Barack Obama. Reuters
US companies have been forced to carry out so-called inversions because of the high corporate tax rate in the United States and its global taxation system, a tax reform lobby group has claimed.
America’s nominal corporate tax rate is almost 40pc, the highest in the OECD. The Americans for Tax Reform group wants the rate cut to make it more competitive. “As a result of our high corporate rate and our global taxation system, American companies are at a strong competitive disadvantage,” ATRchief of staff Christopher Butler said at an event in Dublin yesterday.
“What’s happened in recent years in order to mitigate these disadvantages is that a number of companies have inverted.”
In an inversion, a US corporation avoids US taxes by buying or setting up a foreign company in a country, such as Ireland, and then moving its tax domicile to that country.
The US Treasury announced a crackdown in September on inversion deals, with President Obama a staunch critic of the strategy.
“While Ireland is getting intense pressure from our government officially to stop a lot of its practices which are attractive for foreign companies to come in, we’re saying that on behalf of American companies and the American economy, please don’t change,” Mr Butler said. “Frankly it’s only the competition that comes from places like Ireland that will enable the United States to become more competitive.”
High US taxes pushing US companies into Ireland: Tax reform group
Friday, December 12, 2014 – 07:05 AM
There are calls from the US for Ireland’s corporate tax rate to remain at 12.5%.
A conference in Dublin this afternoon will discuss the issue, with speakers from the group Americans for Tax Reform along with banking and accountancy specialists from Ireland.
The organisers say the event comes amid international pressure on Ireland, as well as a debate in the US, on penalties for American companies that file their taxes here.
Tax policy director with the Americans for Tax Reform group Ryan Ellis said some US companies do business in Ireland in order to escape the high rates of tax in the States.
“If people are complaining that US companies are incentivised because of our (US) tax system to exercise multinational opportunites, the culprit is the US tax system.
“It’s a little passive-aggressive to slap a 40% corporate tax on you as a US company and then throw your hands up and wonder why you try to do something to avoid that 40% tax.”
US group opposed to EU tax harmonisation meeting in Dublin
Friday 12 December 2014 11.54
Americans for Tax Reform is part of a broad coalition which lobby for countries to maintain autonomy over taxes
A US group, which is lobbying against efforts by the European Union to harmonise taxes on company profits, is hosting a seminar in Dublin today.
The organisation called Americans for Tax Reform argues that the ability of countries such as Ireland to maintain low levels of corporation tax encourages innovation.
The group is part of a broad coalition of organisations in Canada, Spain, France, Australia and Japan which lobby for countries to maintain autonomy in relation to taxes.
It says it opposes any tax changes such as harmonisation proposed by the EU, United Nations or the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
The seminar called “Should Irish tax policy and US business bow to the pressure?” will be addressed by Ryan Ellis, the policy director of Americans for Tax Reform.
Other speakers are AIB’s head of treasury Donal Galvin, John O’Connell of the Tax Payers Alliance in Britain, Lorenzo Montanari of the US Property Rights Alliance, Christina Berechet of CIVISMO in Spain and Irish financial analyst Cormac Lucey.
US group calls for Irish corporate tax rate to stay low
AUDIO: Americans for Tax Reform say the US system needs to change, not Ireland
08:23 Friday 12 December 2014
There are calls from the US for the Irish corporate tax rate to remain at 12.5%.
A conference in Dublin this afternoon will discuss the issue, with speakers from the group Americans for Tax Reform – along with banking and accountancy specialists from Ireland.
The organisers say the event comes amid international pressure on Ireland, as well as a debate in the US, on penalties for American companies that file their taxes here.
They say the meeting will compare the challenges faced by Ireland and the US in implementing what they are describing as ‘free market’ and ‘pro-growth tax policies’.
Ryan Ellis is the tax policy director with Americans for Tax Reform group.
He says that some US companies do business in Ireland in order to escape the high rates of tax in the States.
He also believes that now is a good time to encourage this conversation in Ireland.