Every so often in campaigning, you experience a rare breakthrough moment where the project gathers steam and people start to listen in a way they haven’t before.
We had one of those moments last summer. My colleagues and I had spent the last five years telling people that anonymous companies facilitate much of the corruption that we campaign to stop. Most people were sympathetic to our cause and surprised by what we told them, but in terms of real, hard change, it’s fair to say our calls fell largely on deaf ears.
In 2013, things changed.
Earlier this month, Nigeria leapt past South Africa to emerge as Africa’s largest economy. The financial world has watched the shift intently, with a keen interest on the amount of money coming into Nigeria. But keeping an eye on the huge sums of money flowing out is just as important.
If you’re anything like me, you may have spent an hour waiting in line at the U.S. post office yesterday. I realize I’m a blogger, and a graduate student, and in my twenties — and all of these factors made me rather unlike the typical pen-and-paper-tax-filer — but there’s just something so satisfying about addressing an envelope (and sometimes a check) to the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
Sometimes—even usually—competition is a good thing. It lowers market prices; it sent a man to the moon; and it’s responsible for thousands of Olympic medals. In many cases, competitions–or races–are responsible for innovation, efficiency, and better performance. In these cases, an individual actor’s pursuit of victory leads to the betterment of society, a market, or a generation of athletes. However, sometimes competitions—or races—instead lead to worse outcomes for society. Often called a “race to the bottom,” these kinds of competitions include, for example, international degradations of environmental and labor standards.
This kind of race also happens in U.S. banking, where individual states’ pursuits of bank deposits have led to a degradation of bank security for the entire nation.
Thanks to an AP report that came out yesterday, we now know of yet another reason shell companies are used to keep information in the shadows, but this one involves a U.S. government agency and a “Cuban Twitter”.
While leaders of the Group of 20 (G20) countries won’t convene in Brisbane until November, meetings surrounding the agenda of the G20 are ongoing in the months leading up to the summit. From April 10th to the 11th, finance ministers and central bankers from G20 countries will meet in Washington, D.C. to discuss the G20′s stance on a number of different monetary and financial policies.
These sound like items purchased by the world’s wealthiest oligarchs, right?
Well, they were actually acquired by Teodorin Obiang, son of President Teodoro Obiang of Equatorial Guinea. When his father convenes with other leaders for this week’s EU-Africa summit, a wide range of topics will be covered. But there’s one issue in particular that should be given a loudspeaker during the talks in Brussels: illicit financial flows.
After a year-long hiatus, the Financial Transparency Coalition’s newsletter is back! In our newsletter you will find updates on our organization, policy work, press, resources, and upcoming events.
To read the January – March 2014 edition, click here.
Tax expenditures—government spending through the tax code, also called loopholes—have increased dramatically in the last twenty years. In some ways tax expenditures are good; for example, they can be used as incentives to encourage corporate and private behavior that provides a social benefit. On the other hand, these expenditures both lower government revenue and can skew the horizontal and vertical equity of our tax system. For example, corporate loopholes can result in dramatically different effective corporate rates for nearly identical companies.
These loopholes have dramatic effects on effective tax rates. While the United States has a statutory tax rate of 35% (the second highest among developed nations) corporations in this country pay an effective tax rate of just 12.6%. Senator Tom Coburn, a Republican from Oklahoma, has responded to these statistics with this: “An individual’s or corporation’s tax rate shouldn’t be dependent on their ability to hire a tax lobbyist. It’s especially wrong to ask families who are struggling to make ends meet to subsidize special breaks for corporations.”
For fifteen years, eight goals have represented the yardstick by which development is measured. These are the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) adopted in the United Nations Millennium Declaration at the beginning of the century, and represent a commitment to a noble new partnership to drastically reduce poverty worldwide. It is through this Declaration that all 193 member states of the United Nations and 23 organizations have agreed to achieve a set of eight goals by 2015.
Now that we are rounding into the last year of the Declaration, the UN and other aid organizations are developing the post-2015 Development Agenda and asking the important question: “So now what?”