Friday, August 16, 2013

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Alison Bennett reports on the OECD's work on offshore tax avoidance, highlighting the "stateless income" that's shuffled around the globe so as to avoid contributing to social good anywhere:
Policymakers around the world are stepping up efforts to tighten rules because a growing slice of corporate profits isn’t taxed in any country.

Multinational companies can legally structure transactions so they don’t pay tax anywhere, creating “stateless income” that is coming under attack as countries seek to fill budget gaps. The Obama administration, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and tax officials from other countries want to reach a consensus on how to combat the issue, with more than a dozen proposals being weighed, Bloomberg BNA reported.

“Every country is revenue-hungry,” said Edward Kleinbard, a professor at the University of Southern California’s Gould School of Law who has written several papers and testified before Congress on the subject. “Countries see very large gaps in their corporate tax collections.”
“Everything is up for grabs right now, including a substantial rewrite of the international tax rules,” Kleinbard said. “When the dust settles, U.S. multinationals will pay a higher effective tax rate tomorrow than they do today.” 
 - Dan Fumano reports that Nestle's efforts to turn public goods into private profits including draining the equivalent of a small lake away from British Columbia for bottling without paying a dime.

- David Dayen writes that the fraudulent documents used in rubber-stamp foreclosure proceedings over the past few years are just the tip of the iceberg - as high finance has been so busy repackaging and reselling mortgage interests that it's largely lost track as to who owns what.

- Laura Kane reports on a much-needed challenge to the Cons' efforts to silence most Canadians when it comes to discussing and analyzing new pipelines and other sources of massive environmental risk which affect us all:
Environmentalists have launched a court challenge attempting to strike down Harper government legislation that restricts public comment on energy proposals, including Enbridge’s proposed Line 9B Reversal, which runs in part through the Toronto region.
ForestEthics Advocacy and activist Donna Sinclair — represented by civil rights lawyer Clayton Ruby — filed the suit Tuesday in Federal Court. The application asks the court to throw out new rules created by the National Energy Board, on the grounds that they violate Charter rights and silence dissent.
Under the new rules, introduced in the federal government’s 2012 omnibus budget bill C-38, Canadians may no longer freely show up at public hearings on energy proposals and present their opinion or send a written statement to the energy board.
Instead they must fill out a nine-page application to the board justifying their right to speak on the issue. The board then decides which individuals or organizations get to comment, reserving the right to refuse anyone who isn’t “directly” affected by the matter.
Ruby pointed out that during the Enbridge Northern Gateway hearings that took place in British Columbia before the new rules came in, 1,544 people or entities gave testimony. This year, under the new rules, only 175 will be heard.
- Finally, Nick Fillmore observes that the Harper Cons' austerity policies are hitting Canada's most vulnerable residents the hardest.

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