quarta-feira, 5 de março de 2008

Sobre o ataque à concorrência fiscal e soberania dos Estados

Ou: Proibam e façam o que quiser no seu país e com os seus próprios cidadãos mas não invadam a soberania dos outros (a não ser que queriam promover a total anomia e desordem internacional).

Europe's Tiny Tax Havens Should Be Left in Peace: Matthew Lynn (Bloomberg) --

(...) Not cooperating in Germany's investigation ofalleged tax evaders. The tussle between Germany and Liechtenstein is just theoverture to a wider battle between the big European nations andthe tiny low-tax principalities. Next up: Monaco and Andorra. And yet, the attacks are completely unfair.

(...) It started when German investigators paid 5 million euros ($7.6 million) to aformer employee of the Liechtenstein bank LGT Group for computerdisks containing the names of people holding accounts there. (...)

You can see why the tax havens are an irritation for the big European governments. In a world of increasing mobility, andbetter communication links, it has become easier for the wealthyto shift their base to a more tax-friendly environment.

Half theBritish corporate establishment seems to be based in Monaco thesedays. Plenty of Germans appear to be storing money away in Liechtenstein. ``Liechtenstein is a clear example of a pirate state,'' saidJohn Christensen, director of the Brussels-based Tax JusticeNetwork, a research group that promotes awareness about offshorefinance. ``
(...) And yet, Liechtenstein and Monaco have no obligation toprovide a list of foreign investors to German, French or British tax authorities, as long as money laundering and terrorism aren't suspected. Here's why such demands are contradictory.

Two Wrongs First, how can the German government justify paying HeinrichKieber, the former LGT Group employee, for details of privateaccounts, then sell the stolen property around the world? Itdoesn't matter if the disks revealed tax evasion, which,incidentally, has yet to be proven. Two wrongs don't make a right.

Presumably the German, U.K., French or Swedishgovernments, which bought the data, will have no objections if anEU member state starts stealing information from their banks.

Next, while they may not be full-blown nations, these are sovereign entities. Germany has a right to set whatever laws itlikes for people living in Germany. If it wants to ban its citizens from holding accounts -- or setting up trusts andfoundations -- in other countries, it can do so (and deal withthe flight of people and capital). But it can't harass other countries into changing their practices. If people invest in low-tax countries or in legal structures such as foundations, their tax liability is their business, not the responsibility of the host nation. For most legitimate investors, low-tax principalities provide a useful alternative tot he high-tax, big-government consensus that suffocates much ofEurope.

Unfair Competition Lastly, it is ludicrous to say that this kind of tax``competition'' is unfair. All competition is unfair. These aresmall nations entitled to make their living any way they want to. It is no more unfair than Germany's proficiency at making cars,or the French aptitude at making wine. Should the Germans shutdown their luxury-car industry because it makes life difficultfor auto workers in the rest of Europe? Of course not. So whyshould Liechtenstein close its financial-services industry? Naturally, tax havens should make sure they aren't harboringassets for criminals or terrorists. And yet, that is a redherring. Mounir el-Motassadeq, the only person to stand trialover the Sept. 11 terror attacks in the U.S., operated out ofHamburg, not Liechtenstein. One of the suspected hijackers usedaccounts in Florida, not Monaco. In reality, terrorists useeveryday banks because they attract less suspicion. Maybe the German government and others paying for stoleninformation should spend more time thinking about making theirown countries more attractive for its tax-paying citizens.

(Matthew Lynn is a Bloomberg News columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.)

Sem comentários:

Enviar um comentário