Saturday, May 29, 2010

You do something wrong, FATCA shoots your neighbor
- As Seen on Google

Google has grown from an idea generated by two students at Stanford University in 1998 to one of the world’s most well known and successful companies. Liane Hornsey, Director of People Operations for Europe, the Middle East and Africa says that the company would not have been able to innovate as quickly as it has, nor create the products it has in such a short space of time without highly valuing employee engagement ;
- The Wikileak video spread like wildfire across the internet and what next this week?
I'm not a wealthy man, but I'm rich in my convictions The West Needs a Good Dose of Perestroika -‎ Nothing Beats Helen Womack ‘s Analysis
During the Cold War, oppressed political dissidents around the world often had an easier time getting human-rights groups to advocate for their freedom. Today, however, it seems that dissidents often fail to garner the international spotlight they previously held. The reasons are manifold--ranging from the politicization of human rights to economic globalization to moral relativism.
Launching the Labour manifesto for the recent British election, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown stood against the backdrop of a golden cornfield and promised a future fair for all. As I watched, I was struck by a powerful sense of deja vu. Where had I seen and heard all that before? Yes, of course, the Soviet Union circa 1980 — the old propaganda that spoke of bumper harvests and five-year plans fulfilled and overfulfilled.

A fresh page was turned in Prague on April 8 when Medvedev and the US President, Barack Obama, signed a treaty to reduce Russian and American stockpiles of strategic nuclear weapons. Before that, Obama had cancelled a Bush-era plan to deploy ballistic missile defence systems in Poland and the Czech Republic, a prospect that had unsettled Moscow. The treaty was seen by some defence experts as a "one up" to Russia, but others saw wider benefits for the West in the politics of win-win and the new goodwill wafting from the Kremlin.

Back in the CCCP - USSR ; Moscow Times [It was the greedy free market, supposedly, that created both the housing bubble and the housing bust and led, inevitably, to the “great recession.” Capitalism, according to most liberal pundits (and even Alan Greenspan in a bad mood), is an inherently risky and unstable system that requires government regulation to correct its flaws and moderate its excesses. Crony Capitalism Is NOT Capitalism ; Faking It Won't Make It ]
• · Nothing beats a quiet Sunday afternoon in the traditional book store. Last week I whiled away a couple of hours at two of my favorites – Daunts and Hatchards. Daunts is the best travel bookshop on earth, while Hatchards has five floors of imaginative, beautifully selected, beautifully laid-out books... Nothing Beats Book Stores ; George Clooney and Up in the Air have a lot to tell the employers about the downside of reducing face-to-face contact. Efficiency and savings are often illusory when it comes to computerizing and centralizing businesses. Sydney Expo and Up in the Air ; You thought only conservatives got mad about taxes? Tea partiers, eat your hearts out: A group of liberals got together Tuesday and proved that they, too, can have a tax rebellion. But theirs is a little bit different: They want to pay more taxes. ; Law students and the consumers of legal services like to think that professors are hired by law schools on the basis of pure intellectual ability and achievement. No doubt, individual intellectual ability and achievement play significant roles in law school faculty hiring. However, another important dynamic is overlooked, wealth
• · · Chris Masters in the Telegraph writes about gang violence in Melbourne and Sydney in a story headlined 'Why Sydney's hitmen are deadlier'. Under the usual pictures of the Ibrahims, Morans and the late Michael McGurk, he explains various motives behind the violence and deaths, including the practice of an underling serving jail time for a superior but not being properly rewarded after release. ; hitmen Underbelly 3 - The Golden Mile, set in Kings Cross, debuts this Sunday, Channel 9 8.30. It gets a rave review plus some great site Kings Cross footage on The Australian
• · · · THE Sydney underworld's war without end, the ongoing battle for temporary supremacy, has in recent years featured the most visible members, bikies. The clearest evidence that the jungle rule book of old has been torn up comes from the prisons. Chis Master; Hell on Wheels; Underbelly; I HAVE a particular affection for my Australian friends of Middle Eastern background - they seem imbued with a special generosity and. zest for life
• · · · · The reframe is powerful; arguing in favour of envy would appear as difficult as opposing hope, faith or charity The politics of envy ; Planning laws and lobbying NSW Inc
• · · · · · Founded on a growing evidence base that working is good for health Arbeighcht; It is a fitting coincidence that this new chapter in our tax history coincides with our centenary and in preparing ourselves for entering our new century of tax and superannuation administration! tax history ; Well, it's a good thing I'm rich and famous on google

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Happy Mothers Day to Dial, June and all the wonderful women in this amazing world

Every year we gaze enviously at the lists of the richest people in world. Wondering what it would be like to have that sort of cash. Global Rich List

A Boy with Double Dragon Tattoo is now on the Global list . A list, very few Czechs make it Bohemian Media Dragon
or Australians ( Dangerous Journeys)

Creating a healthy happy world Matters of Amazing Grace
Having looked at history and done theory on happiness in recent blogs, here’s a top 10 from Dr Mike Pratt to pin to your wall Happiness – 10 Key Things We Know

Creating a healthy happy world is a worthy pursuit which we all have a stake in. It’s something academic colleague Dr. Mike Pratt has been working on to evolve Peak Performance theory. This week I have three posts based on Mike’s recent work, and for starters here’s some historical ground from the deep delvers:
BC 384-322: Greek Aristotle strikes it long and deep: Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence
• BC 341-270: Greek Epicurus hits the pleasure button (Epicureanism), and gets tagged as a supporter of hedonism. To his credit, he said you have to draw the line somewhere.
• On sweeping levels, Buddhism and Islam develop powerful paths to happiness.
• 13th century, the Italian Roman Catholic priest Thomas Aquinas weighs in with: “Every man necessarily desires happiness.”
• 1711-1776: the Scot David Hume high five’s Aristotle’s view.
• 1776: The American Declaration of Independence includes the pursuit of happiness as an unalienable right.
• 1748 – 1832: Englishman Jeremy Bentham defines happiness as pleasure and the absence of pain. An advocate of utilitarianism, he describes natural law and natural rights as “nonsense upon stilts.”
• 1806 – 1873: John Stuart Mill works up utilitarianism with Jeremy, and focuses on actions that generate pleasure. He says OK to different types of pleasure, and pumps ‘higher pleasure’.
• 1818 – 1883: Karl Marx sees happiness as the ultimate destination, achieved through crashing the lead vehicle.
• 1844 – 1900: Friedrich Nietzsche says happiness is something for British Shopkeepers. Ronnie Barker’s sitcom alter-ego, the grocer Arkwright, to double negative, wouldn’t disagree.
• 1879 – 1955: Albert Einstein compares moral aims like well-being and happiness to the ambitions of a pig.
• 2000 – 2010: Happiness gets pondered, indexed, studied, measured, blogged and tweeted about.

Stand by for more about his happiness… [The tax bar is commonly referred to as a "special priesthood," and it is only slightly more tolerant than the Catholic Church in ordaining women tax priests. -- Paul L. Caron
Special priesthood; FORMER independent MP John Hatton has called on the Southern Highlands to be awake to political corruption and incompetence. Mr Hatton, who in 1994 led the push for the Wood Royal Commission into police corruption, which will see him played by John Waters in the latest Underbelly series. Corruption buster, John Hatton, to give talk on empowering communities ]
• · It's wonderful to unexpectedly stumble upon a kindred spirit – or at least a person who holds a worldview eerily similar to your own. This happened recently when I came across the work and writings of Gunter Pauli, who is about to release the English language version of his book, The Blue Economy ; 15 April 2010 marked the 6-year anniversary of TaxProf Blog
• · · Sarah Palin's contract discovered by two students to speak at Stanislaus college includes private jet and expensive hotels…MUST BE a r larger for West Coast Events; or, a Hawker 800 or larger for East Coast Events and both are subject to the Speaker's approval Lear 60 ; NYU Hosts Reading Today of Dan Shaviro's Getting It Following up on my prior post, the NYU Graduate Tax Program is hosting a reading and discussion today of the new novel by Tax Prof Daniel N. Shaviro (NYU), Getting It (iUniverse, 2010): Bill Doberman is a liar. He's also a conniver, a phony, a hypocrite, and a cad -- and those are his good points... Evelyn Waugh meets John Grisham. Hilarious and gripping
• · · · The 3 most critical skills for managing a remote team, Wayne Turmel,, 1 March 2010. The author suggests that managers of 21st-century teams need the ability to: create human connections quickly, know what tools to use when - and how to use them, and create loyalty; A blog launched today provides the public with an opportunity to participate in the development of the Rudd Government's Standard Business Reporting (SBR) program...the blog provides a online forum for businesses, reporting professionals, software developers and the broader public to discuss SBR issues Lindsay Tanner ; Standard Business Reporting Open for Comment ; The new social media policy recognises the widespread influence that blogs and wikis have within the community, and that of course includes our staff whom we want be alert to the potential risks of identity fraud and other threats. DIAC Use of the web New social media policy to guide staff online activities; It's all the rage for ministries and agencies to have a Facebook or even MySpace page these days. Governments are going where their citizens are. So why bother having a web site at all? Will Facebook profiles replace govt web sites?,
• · · · · Arkadi Kuhlmann, Ivey Business Journal, March-April 2010. Arkadi Kuhlmann, Chairman and CEO of ING Direct USA (America's largest direct bank), describes the steps that he took, and that other leaders can take, to build a distinctive and dynamic culture Culture driven leadership ; Over the last eighteen months of economic turmoil, leaders, and their ethics, morals and judgement, have been scrutinised and questioned. Leadership and its role in business, politics and wider society has been the subject of great debate. Leadership challenges ; In the new movie Date Night, Steve Carell plays tax lawyer Phil Foster, who is married to Claire Tina Fey
CODA: The ninth edition of "As Certain as Death -- Quotations About Taxes," the collection that I have assembled and published in Tax Notes over the last 16 years. It contains 1,577 quotations, a 426 percent increase over the 300 quotations that made up the first edition in 1994....
No matter how cynical you get, you can never keep up. A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can depend upon the support of Paul …
[T]axation, in reality, is life. If you know the position a person takes on taxes, you can tell their whole philosophy. The tax code, once you get to know it, embodies all the essence of life: greed, politics, power, goodness, charity.
A fine is a tax for doing something wrong. A tax is a fine for doing something right.
As Certain As Death -- Quotations About Taxes

Monday, March 01, 2010

Some bad news is not new; it's made worse by the fact that it's caught in a long-term trend that shows no sign of reversal ... Dragon’s writing on the wall tend to attract trouble...

Our Bronte neighbour wrote in mid September a letter to Australian regulators which detailed his concerns about a fund manager in Australia known as the Astarra Strategic Fund – formerly known as Absolute Alpha.
This letter resulted in regulatory action against a cluster of related funds (almost twenty), however my letter was almost entirely about only one fund in the group. I did not make any major suggestions in the letter about other funds in the Astarra complex. My involvement was detailed today in the Sydney Morning Herald (see stories here, here and here, with the first story on the front page below the fold). There was no genius in my letter – everything could be found (fairly easily) on the internet – and the original tip-off came from a reader of my blog – who noticed links with a story I wrote up in March 2009

Fear 'We did it ourselves!
As for the best leaders, the people do not notice their existence. The next best, the people honour and praise. The next, the people fear; and the next, the people hate ... When the best leader's work is done the people say, 'We did it ourselves!

An obsessive routine in carrying out the details begets conformity and complacency, which in turn dulls everyone's mind. That is why even as they pay attention to details, they continually encourage people to challenge the process. They implicitly understand the sentiment of CEO-leaders like Quad/Graphic's Harry Quadracchi, Oticon's Lars Kolind and the late Bill McGowan of MCI, who all independently asserted that the job of a leader is not to be the chief organizer, but the chief dis-organizer.

chief dis-organizer Leaders of capital and social funds [THE corporate regulator has expressed no concerns about two men owning Australian financial services companies, despite questions about the men's role in a British broker involved in a penny stock scandal.
BusinessDay revealed last week that Jeffrey Revell-Reade, based in Austria, and James Sutherland, based in Hong Kong, owned Australian companies that received three financial services licences from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission. ;
The Association of Independently Owned Financial Planners (AIOFP) has received unconfirmed reports that $85 million of the missing $118 million of assets within the Astarra Strategic Fund (ASF) are safe AIOFP finds $85m of Astarra Strategic assets ; Google i ; Google ii ]
• · The ever expanding volume of information we face on a daily basis - and the wide range of issues in relation to the concept of information overload, ranging from concerns about information fatigue, information interruption, information access and information transparency that require attention to the costs and benefits of faster and more voluminous flows of data, knowledge and decision management Overloaded ; The establishment of the Senior Executive Service (SES) in 1984 sought to create a Service-wide strategic leadership in ideas, management, and ethics in accordance with the Westminster principles and conventions of public administration as they operate in the Australian model of government. The 25th anniversary of the creation of the SES provides an opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate the achievements made during this time, and to focus on the challenges ahead The Senior Executive Service 25th Anniversary,
• · · Data losses to incur fines of up to £500,000, BBC, 12 January 2010. The UK Information Commissioner's Office will be able to issue fines of up to £500,000 for serious data security breaches. The new rule is expected to come into force in the UK on 6 April 2010. The size of the fine will be determined after an investigation to assess the gravity of the breach. Other factors will include the size and finances of the organisation at fault. Individual cases will also be assessed on whether the breach was accidental or deliberate and how much distress the leak of information caused ; Reinventing management
• · · · The art of management ; The heroic leader, media dragon, the charismatic, goal-scoring superstar who doesn't mind carrying the team on his back, is out. Enter the post-heroic leader, the quieter, engaging team player who brings every player into the decision-making process. In fact, today's complex business environment requires a leader who combines the best of both styles Is heroic leadership all bad?,
• · · · · Australia's first taxes were levied to meet the challenges of those early days. They may also have been relatively efficient, equitable and simple, particularly since most of the revenue for the gaol came from import duties on alcohol – 'the more the citizens drank, the more money there was to control them' If we were able to ask Governor Hunter of the new colony of New South Wales why he introduced the very first taxes in Australia – taxes applying to imports – I suspect his answer would be, simply, that the colony had to finance the building of a new gaol because the old one had 'inexplicably' burnt down, private subscriptions had proved insufficient and Britain had refused further subsidies. Ken Henry the VIII ; Individual income tax returns [electronic resource] : necessary or not? : Toni Balik Australia : CPA Australia, 1998 TAX OFFICE IS NOW ON MEDIA DRAGON, FACEBOOK, TWITTER The Tax Office has advised that it is now on social networking site Twitter providing "tweets" (much in the style of an SMS message - 140 characters or less) on the latest updates on new measures, changes to legislation and reminders of upcoming due dates. The ATO says those keen to take a look without signing up to Twitter can go to [
• · · · · · Nicknamed the “Pirate of Prague” for his bargain-basement purchase of post-Soviet privatization vouchers in his native Czechoslovakia, Kozeny, 46, got in trouble with U.S. authorities when he tried to pull off a similar maneuver in the Caspian Sea nation of Azerbaijan in the late 1990s. Bohemian Pirate; As researcher Alan Block described the metastatic growth of the tax-haven phenomenon in his groundbreaking work, Masters of Paradise: Organized Crime and the Internal Revenue Service in the Bahamas, "professional criminals were those who took it upon themselves to organize crime. Their true work was the process of organizing crime itself."GAO reports that CSC has 21 subsidiaries "in jurisdictions listed as tax havens" by the federal government. Some of the firm's global operations are located in tech manufacturing powerhouses such as Bermuda (1); British Virgin Islands (4); Costa Rica (1); Hong Kong (5); Ireland (2); Luxembourg (2); Macao (1); Singapore (4); Switzerland (1). Masters of Paradise; Alexander Zvygintsev, Russia's Deputy Prosecutor-General, said Britain and Israel harboured more Russian criminals than any other countries. He told the newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta: "It is no coincidence the capital of [Britain] is often called 'Londongrad'. It seems that London, as a major financial centre, is turning into a giant laundrette for laundering criminally sourced funds. Britain called crooks' haven
Scots like Jock agree

Monday, February 22, 2010

John Brockman’s Edge question for 2010 asks over a hundred intellectuals, “Is the Internet changing the way you think?” the go-to site for the world’s procrastinating intellectuals

Timothy Garton Ash Cut This Story!
Newspaper articles are too long, encrusted with conventions that don’t add to your grasp of the news

George Orwell’s diaries attest to his deep dread of rats. Perhaps not the only thing he shares with characters in Nineteen Eighty-Four... All day clearing out strawberries, which have not been touched since last year. It seems one plant will put out anything up to 12 or 15 runners ...
Promote a conspiracy theory, and your phones will be bugged, your office burgled (but not robbed), your hard drives fragment, and your emails vanish Or so you’ll think. This season's fashion in conspiracy theories—for those out of the loop of enlightenment—concerns health. The Web sites, marginal cable shows and radio phone-ins are full of tales about how Big Pharma and Bad Government are deliberately spreading diseases or manufacturing scares in order to sell us expensive drugs, gull us into dangerous vaccinations or just simply to create an atmosphere of panic which will allow "them" to take over.

George Orwell’s diaries
[During the Cold War, when Pete Seeger coaxed classrooms full of kids to join him in folk songs, no one saw America’s “singing left” as much of a political threat.
The law of unintended consequences gave a quirky twist to the relation between the Old and New Left and, in the process, lent peculiar accents to America’s musical and political culture that we can’t seem to get rid of even today. The folk revival—a fad sandwiched between the beatniks and the hippies—may have been brief, but it was also the baby boomers’ coming of age, and its echoes have been lasting. Bruce Springsteen made a splash in 2006 with his Seeger Sessions. Ry Cooder paid homage to Woody Guthrie in the 2007 release My Name Is Buddy. Sheryl Crow told Billboard magazine that her song, “Shine Over Babylon,” is “very environmentally conscious, in the tradition of Bob Dylan. Where Have All the Lefties Gone?
; Sovietology was a powerful force in Cold War history, giving the West a better understanding of its adversary. Today, we need a jihadology
In 1945, the United States faced a dire threat. The rising power of the Soviet Union and the spread of communism in Eastern Europe -- and, soon enough, worldwide -- represented a new enemy that imperiled postwar hopes for a peaceful and prosperous world. The United States was poorly equipped to comprehend, let alone respond to, this emerging global danger. The federal government had few experts who spoke Russian or had a deep knowledge of Russian history and culture; universities were barely better off. The field of Soviet studies emerged as a response and became the catalyst for a network of area studies programs that would soon follow.
Sovietology was a powerful force in Cold War history ]
• · Formulaic book-beat stories: how Writer A struggled and made it big, how Writer B’s novel is marketed, or Writer C’s huge advance. Bob Thompson tries to avoid the formulas... The opening piece, “Some Dreamers of the Golden Dream,” begins with a description of the San Bernardino Valley, east of Los Angeles, and of “the hot dry Santa Ana wind that comes down through the passes at 100 miles an hour and whines through the eucalyptus windbreaks and works on the nerves.” Three pages later, with an October Santa Ana bearing witness, a dentist’s wife named Lucille Miller watches her husband burn to death in the family Volkswagen. By the time I emerged from this sinister dreamscape I had overshot my bus stop by a mile.; The French Resistance continues to excite the imagination because of its sheer drama and mystery – embodied perfectly in the story of Jean Moulin... As we approach the 70th anniversary of Charles de Gaulle's historic broadcast from London on 18 June 1940 that inaugurated the French Resistance, interest in the story remains undiminished. It is, though, increasingly difficult for the French to fit the Resistance into their collective memory of this difficult period. There is a prevalent British misconception that the French exaggerate their glorious Resistance exploits-everyone claiming a "resister" in the family-in order to gloss over the darker aspects of the Occupation. In truth, those darker aspects are as present in public discussion today as the Resistance. Every school in Paris has a plaque reminding people of the role played by the Vichy state in the deportation of the Jews. The Resistance continues to excite the imagination because of its sheer drama and mystery
• · · Timothy Garton Ash’s technique lies in a mixture of reportage and judgment, circling and deepening, as the one reinforces the other.
Promote a conspiracy theory, and your phones will be bugged, your office burgled (but not robbed), your hard drives fragment, and your emails vanish. Or so you’ll think. The problem of evil and the origins of the devil, who has inspired Goethe, Heine, W. S. Gilbert, Paul Valéry, Berlioz, Gounod, Turgenev and Randy Newman, to name a few Strange footnote ; Upper mismanagement. Why can’t we make things anymore in America? Two words, says Noam Scheiber: business school
• · · · As tattoos go mainstream, it becomes hard for criminals to signal their devotion to crime. They look more and more like ordinary citizens.. It is a truth universally acknowledged that messing with a guy who has facial tattoos is a really bad idea. Getting dirty words tattooed on your eyelids—a popular choice, judging from the mug shots available online—is a serious commitment. It is, as social scientists say, a “signal that is costly to fake.” The bearer of a facial tattoo announces to the world: I expect to be in prison for most of my life, or to hang out with people who consider prison experience a character reference.; The moral triumphs and failures of leaders carry a greater weight and volume than those of non-leaders. In leadership we see morality and immorality magnified. Leaders are human. That is their strength and their weakness. As humans, they are unpredictable creatures, capable of extraordinary kindness and cruelty
• · · · · Toys for Boys; Bankers

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Not every blogger would begin a history of the 2010s with a vignette in which the oldest house in King Street is peppered with stories from the dream team Peter, Linda and the richest man in the world. Big Night Out fireworks filled with an F- 18 flyover, a 100-gun salute, a new tax crackdown or gala ball?

2010 is not any old year. It marks the centenary year for the Australian Taxation Office, a silver anniversary of the introduction of capital gains tax and a ten anniversary of GST (31 January 2000 to be exact - according to Phil).
Australia Post will honour our centenary with a commemorative stamp that will be circulated among our public. It will be co-designed by tax office staff and launched before November 11, 2010.
The Royal Australian Mint will honour our centenary with a circulating 20 cent coin. It will be designed by tax office staff and released in 2010.

Indeed, GST has been with us for nearly 10 years. This time ten years ago, there was talk of riots in the streets and fears of a consumer strike as prices went up and the threat of price policeman Alan Fels waving his stick. But as it turns out that was the least of our worries. Dr Ken Henry - I like to pay taxes. With them I buy civilization

Recent Survey: Taxpayers giving the rich a cheap ride: survey - Most Australians believe high-income earners do not pay enough tax, and nearly all think low- and middle-income earners pay too much

Taxation is the price we pay for civilization. A Taxing Year to Remember
Michael D'Ascenzo who is widely recognised in Australia and globally for his expertise in taxation and superannuation. (Note - Michael D'Ascenzo is not related to a Canadian actor who is known as Rainbow "Rain" Papadakis in the children's television show Naturally, Sadie.)

Michael D’Ascenzo took up his role as antipodean Commissioner of Taxation on 1 January 2006. When Michael D’Ascenzo joined the Tax Office in 1977, during the bohemian Havel’s Charter 77, he was captured by the exciting work associated with challenging the tax avoidance schemes of the late 1970s and early 1980s, particularly trust stripping and ‘bottom of the harbour’ schemes.
"This tax haven project (Wickenby) is one of the big success stories of the G20," the OECD's head of tax policy, Jeffrey Owens said. "This is not a numbers game. We have seen a real change in attitudes towards compliance."

*The Canberra Times captured a few interesting snippets about the Commish - John Hatton, AO also likes the quote from the Amerikan Oliver Wendell Holmes:

Few children nurse a desire to become that legendary figure of hate, the tax man.
And when young lawyer Michael D'Ascenzo applied to join the public service more than three decades ago, he admits he had little wish to stay at the Australian Taxation Office he now leads.
"The ATO was the first to ring back. I came here with the intention of being here for a few months until I got a better job," he said.
Yet, Mr D'Ascenzo's passion for tax issues grew and he has now been Australia's Taxation Commissioner for more than four years.
The 56-year-old, whose expertise is sought-after worldwide, has been made an Officer of the Order of Australia for his service to public administration and the tax profession throughout his career.
He says his enthusiasm for his work springs from its crucial contribution to the community. During his 33 years with the agency, the Tax Office's work has grown beyond collecting public revenue to protecting workers' futures by administering sttperannttation law and helping cut red tape for businesses.
"I like the phrase that [American jurist] Oliver Wendell Holmes usually used, that `tax is the price we pay for a civilised society' ... You really are making a great contribution to the community and to Australia." He agrees the Tax Office will always need to battle to win the community's affection. That's the light at the top of the hill. It's the aspiration we go for ... If we can take a few steps forward, then that's progress," he said. "At the end of the day, you're trying to redress thousands of years of stereotyping. while people might not boast about it, deep down, most people appreciate the work we do on behalf of the community." He said the Australia Day honour was not his award alone, but one he would share with the Tax Office and its staff.
But today's achievement clearly means a lot to the Italian-born Mr D'Ascenzo, whose pride was clear when he reflected on how much the award would have meant to his recently deceased mother. "My only regret is that my mum's not here for this moment."

Minister Congratulates Tax Commissioner on Australia Day Award ; Italian-born Mr D'Ascenzo ; Our ABC [The Historian, Leigh Edmonds, is to capture the official history of the Tax Office recognising our past, present and future Tax Office Centenary significant memoir; Official history ; The Federal Court has dismissed an application by 3 taxpayers seeking an interlocutory injunction to restrain the Tax Office from carrying out an examination of the taxpayers under s 264 of the ITAA 1936. Daniels v Cranston [2009] FCA 1412, Federal Court, Lander J, 20 November 2009 From Bottom of the Harbour to Wickenby Tax Havens;]
• · Australia could have had a goods and services tax (GST) 20 years sooner, had John Howard had his way. GST on John Howard's agenda in 1979
10 years of GST - The trials and tribulations - Memories of Lara Dunston ; Treasury boss Ken Henry has set himself an ambitious goal: he wants to shake up how we all think about rivers and roads A New Tax System In 2009 Jeffery Owens, the head of the OECD’s Centre for Fiscal Affairs remarked, Who would have thought 25 years ago that the ATO would be so highly regarded internationally?; Praise for ATO war on offshore tax cheats
• · · A Flood of leaks from the government about its plans for superannuation and tax reform are causing distress and confusion in the business community and among pre-retirees trying to plan long-term savings and investments. Tax reform leaks are causing concern; Ken Henry report: Contact us before we contact you.
• · · · For weeks – no, months – I have suppressed the dark thoughts. As the new year dawned, the twinges of panic became more persistent, yet I remained paralysed by doubt and guilt. With each passing day, the pressure grows more unbearable… I really must find out where the money goes ... You can help by supporting a piece of US legislation called the Energy Security Through Transparency Act, which would require oil, gas, and mining companies to publicly disclose payments made to governments. Follow the money," which shows just what happens when you buy gas every day ; The macroeconomic arguments for the GST I think were, and remain, watertight. Remember, in the 1980s as Treasurer Keating was for it before he was agin’ it as PM in the 1990s?. The GST introduced a broad-based, growing revenue stream for government and ensured that the wealthy couldn’t avoid paying tax on their (large, and growing) expenditures, even if clever accountants meant they could largely avoid paying much on their income. A particular innovation of the Australian model was to reserve GST revenue to the States, ostensibly making it available for service delivery (schools, roads, hospitals) to the communities that had paid it. We can quibble over how much in % terms each state pays and gets, the competence of the state governments as service providers, and the difficulty businesses face in complying with their collections and remittance obligations — but still I think the macroeconomic argument has proven its validity ten years on. still I think the macroeconomic argument has proven its validity ten years on.; The excise legislation is more than 100 years old as excise has been levied on a number of commodities since 1901. 1901 - that means even older than the oldest Public Accounts Committee in Australia
• · · · · Over the past ninety years the High Court has been divided in its approach to the definition of 'duties of excise'. Initially such duties were confined to taxes on the production or manufacture of goods. This definition was gradually extended to include taxes on goods imposed at any point in the distribution process. Over time the Court came to accept that exceptions should be made for taxes on alcohol, tobacco and petrol, and hence the States have been permitted to tax these goods. The plaintiffs were charged under the Business Franchise Licences (Tobacco) Act 1987 (NSW) with selling tobacco in NSW without a licence. The Act provides for a licence fee, which includes a set amount, plus an amount calculated by reference to the value of tobacco sold during the 'relevant period'. The 'relevant period' is defined as 'the month commencing 2 months before the commencement of the month in which the licence expires'. The plaintiffs argued that the licence fee imposed by the Act was an excise and hence invalid due to section 90 of the Constitution. A majority of the High Court (Brennan CJ, McHugh, Gummow and Kirby JJ) agreed. - The case that made GST possible What is an excise duty? Ha and Hammond v NSW ; The states have been urged to undertake their own Henry-style reviews of their tax systems and act on the findings, rather than blame Canberra for their economic woes States urged to review tax
• · · · · · Accountability, flexibility and transparency have become, in recent decades, the mantras of management in Australia and New Zealand as the public sector attempts to become more like the private sector. Driven by economic rationalism, by managerialism, by the election of right-of-centre governments and the movement of left-of-centre governments to the right, and by a different expectation of what governments can and should do, public administration has morphed into new public management (NPM). Governing the Government: The Paradoxical Place of the Public Accounts Committee; Back in 2002 my old Public Accounts Committee celebrated centenary and its courageous chair Andrew Tink knew how to deliver a speech ... When Lieutenant James Cook arrived at Botany Bay at the end of April 1770, he brought with him two future Parliamentary Committee witnesses who would turn out to be crucial to the British Government’s decision to settle Australia. Those future witnesses spent their short time at Botany Bay examining everything in sight and making copious contemporaneous notes of whatever caught their eye. They were of course, Joseph Banks and James Mario Matra who along with Captain Cook himself wrote in their Journals about the sandy soil, strange vegetation and even stranger animals. The Role of Parliamentary Committee Witnesses in the Foundation of Australia, Mr Andrew Tink MP

CODA - STUART WASHINGTON - blast from parliamentary past writes well. It reads like an airport spy novel: an unsolved murder in a Tokyo red-light district, exotic tax havens around the world, and thousands of defrauded investors in Britain. Add to that some $118 million tipped in to Astarra Strategic Fund by Australian investors which, almost three months after authorities blew the whistle, is still not properly accounted for. The investigation by regulators is understood to include every possibility - from the $118 million being "misplaced" to misappropriation. "misplaced" to misappropriation. Authorities were alerted in September in a letter from the Bronte Capital blogger, John Hempton, about the improbably smooth returns achieved by Astarra Strategic, which advertised itself as an investor in hedge funds.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Economics Blogger and Blog Rankings by Scholarly Impact
Franklin G. Mixon Jr. (Mercer University, Department of Economics) & Kamal P. Upadhyaya (University of New Haven, Department of Economics and Finance) have published Blogometrics, Eastern Economic Journal (2010), vol. 36, pp. 1–10. Here is the abstract:
This study gathers information on a wide array of economics bloggers and blogs in order to develop a ranking of economics bloggers that is based on citations to their academic research. This ranking is used in an iterative process that next presents a ranking of economics blogs that is based on the ranking of economics bloggers, and finally a ranking of economics departments that is based on the ranking of economics blogs. The ranking of blogs included in this study is positively correlated with an external ranking based on their productivity (popularity), whereas the department ranking presented here comports quite well with department rankings in Coupé (2003) and Roessler (2004) that are developed with more traditional measures, such as the impact of the scholarship of an economics department's faculty.

Here are the Top 10 Economics Bloggers by Scholarly Impact:

1. Gary S. Becker (Chicago), Becker-Posner Blog

2. Gregory Mankiw (Harvard), Mankiw's Blog

3. Richard Posner (Chicago), Becker-Posner Blog

4. Nouriel Roubini (NYU), RGE Monitor

5. Paul A. Samuelson (MIT), Inside the Economist's Mind

6. Nicolai J. Foss (Copenhagen), Organizations & Markets

7. Justin Wolfers (Pennsylvania), Freakonomics

8. Daniel Hamermesh (Texas), Freakonomics

9. Richard B. Langlois (Connecticut), Organizations & Markets

10. Steven D. Levitt (Chicago), Freakonomics
Here are the Top 10 Economics Blogs by Scholarly

France is considering a tax on Google to support old media companiesAmazon, Google and taxes, oh my! from Don't Mess With Taxes

Will the rich flee the U.S. to fairer tax climes?

People in positions of power are more judgmental, but are guilty of "moral hypocrisy", according to scientists. "Moral hypocrisy has its greatest impact among people who are legitimately powerful.

"In contrast, a further experiment demonstrated that people who don't feel personally entitled to their power are actually harder on themselves than they are on others, which is a phenomenon we call 'hypercrisy'. Powerful people more guilty of 'moral hypocrisy', study finds

This isn't entirely a tax justice subject - it's much more generic than that - but if you can see past the stilted IMF-speak it's interesting anyway. This is another IMF working paper, entitled "A Fistful of Dollars: Lobbying and the Financial Crisis" whose introduction notes: lobbying is bad for you

"A Fistful of Dollars: Lobbying and the Financial Crisis report

As a first step, Congress may extend the estate tax. There are faster methods, too Four ways to tax Wall Street’s rich

Land of Bankers - who are now all coming to head banks in Western Australia Quality of life in the UK is lower than former communist states

"It is difficult to imagine the scale of the consequences for the economy and society if major banks had been allowed to collapse. The Treasury was justified in using taxpayers’ money to safeguard savings and stabilise and restore confidence in the financial system.

"But the big question is what all of this will eventually cost the taxpayer. This will take time to answer. What we do know is that how the eventual sale of RBS and Lloyds is managed will be crucial to protecting the public interest. The structure of the UK banking system has changed beyond recognition. When it comes to selling its stakes in the banks, the government has to be mindful of the proceeds for the taxpayer but also of the implications for competition in the UK market, so that customers get a fair deal.

"As the crisis begins to subside, lessons must start to be learned. The authorities need to put formal arrangements in place to evaluate the effectiveness of the support provided to banks in order to inform future policy makers."
- Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office, 4 December 2009

The National Audit Office has concluded that the public support provided to UK banks by the Treasury was justified, given the scale of the economic and social costs if one or more major banks had collapsed. In providing that support, moreover, the Treasury met two of the government’s principal objectives: protecting depositors’ money in banks and maintaining the stability of the financial system.

The final cost to the taxpayer will not, however, be known for a number of years.

Bankers 1

Bankers 2