Trump and the Panama Papers…

800px-Donald_Trump_by_Gage_Skidmore

May 13, 2016 (San Diego) So Donald Trump is saying he will not release his tax returns. Mitt Romney said that there might be a bombshell in his taxes. So then we came across this claim from Crooks and Liars, his name is 3, 540 times in the database. To be fair they got this via telesur. And we got the database. You can download it too. Or just search it in situ.

So we took a look and found LLC and other entities to his name. One of these entities is New Trump Technology Limited registered in the Virgin islands. For that matter there is Trump King International Limited, also based in the British Virgin Islands.

Now we have to be fair to the story. This could be another Trump, or he could have sold this to somebody else. Trump does this often. Or it could be a problem, and why the candidate is not releasing his taxes. This is not a rare form of asset protection among the very wealthy and immensely wealthy. These off shore corporations help to protect assets to the order of trillions of dollars. According to Thomas Picketty:  “Around 8% of the world’s financial wealth is held in tax havens. In developing and emerging countries, this percentage can be much higher, which makes it even more difficult to build fiscal consent and trust in government and to address situations of extreme inequality.” He wrote this in the “Hidden Wealth of Nations.”

Trump’s fortune would be a small drop in that number, but it is reflective of a larger problem. It would be rather inconvenient if it was revealed that Trump has avoided the payment of taxes by hiding assets abroad. Perhaps that is the bomb Romney referenced? After all, he and Trump do move in similar social circles, and they know what each other does.

The problem is not limited to individuals, but also to transnational companies that move assets from high taxation (or enforcement) areas, to low taxation to no enforcement areas. The mechanisms are at times silly, but they steal trillions of dollars from governments.

The Panama Papers are the leak that keeps on giving, and perhaps will finally lead to the kind of reforms encouraged by Zucman. These are some of them:

  • The creation of a global financial register which requires a high degree of cooperation, at the international level.
  • The United States and Europe can advance alone in reforming the taxation of companies. It is up to them to choose the way in which they wish to tax multinationals. An EU-US accord would build the foundation for a global base of taxation that would put an end to the large-scale shifting of profits to tax haven countries.

On and one last thing, it is time for major media to ask these questions from all candidates running for high office.

 

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