Personal Finance

Tax Code Simplification Presidential Candidate-Style


One of the 17 presidential candidates recently said, “I can write a tax code in three pages.” Carly Fiorina is not alone among her fellow 2016 presidential contenders in advocating tax reform and simplification of the tax code. However, none is quite so ambitious.

I suppose that theoretically one could write a tax code on three sheets of paper that would raise enough revenue to fund the US government. Let us consider that challenge for a moment by measuring a baseline first. Then we can consider the issues of simplification.

Shadow Banking's Global Reach


In August, the Financial Times reported that 11 Chinese shadow banks had written an open letter to the top party official in Hebei (河北) province asking for a bailout. Soon afterwards, Foreign Policy magazine ran a story headlined, “Shadow banking is killing China’s stock markets.” In addition, just days ago, the Wall Street Journal reported that Chinese banks are “looking to shadow banking for growth,” which is contributing to new risks.

Implementing the 'Plastax' in the UK


Last month, England became the latest government – and last among members of the UK – to pass a policy to combat the recent rise in the use of disposable plastic shopping bags, in its case a five-pence charge for each one.

While English newspapers warned that the new policy would create chaos, England is by no means the first to consider such a controversial policy. Several countries across the world and local governments have taken steps to address the environmental consequences of increased plastic bag use through regulation.

A Wale(s) of a Tax Strategy


Companies such as Apple, Starbucks, and Amazon are well known for legally using international law to their advantage when it comes to tax. Now a small Welsh town is mimicking their tactics. Independent traders in Crickhowell are moving their businesses “offshore” to avoid paying tax.

Loaning with a Sense of Purpose


Over the past half century, lending to the poor has taken on many different forms. The microfinance movement began in earnest when Muhammad Yunus, the then-economics professor at Bangladesh University, came up with the idea of providing small loans using his personal funds to local villages in the 1970s.

Today, five continents practise the path of credit-flow to the world of the poor with some heavily contested evidence of success. This is particularly true in the area of how effective micro finance is in alleviating poverty.

Newfound Wealth, Opportunities, and...Debt


Why should we repay our debts? Why do we borrow in the first place? In addition, why do some people, despite intense feelings of obligation and shame, default?

Worldwide, and especially in the global South where, as researchers Mosa Phadi and Claire Ceruti have said, “everyone is now middle class”, and people are not willing – as they once might have been – to think of themselves as belonging in a low and stigmatised social bracket, these questions have taken on particular relevance.

The Potential in Splitting Australia's GST into Two


The overflowing rubbish tips of Lagos, the Pacific Ocean garbage patch, and the huge electronic graveyard of Guiyu, China might seem irrelevant to Australia’s current debate over reforming the Goods and Services Tax. Yet all three of these far-flung places are testament to the world’s incessant habit of buying stuff and then later throwing it away – and Australian consumers are just as culpable as any.

A Lesson in Fairness for a Retirement Savings System


Australia is engaged in an ongoing debate about the fairness of the superannuation system. Those on the highest incomes are extracting the greatest and an unfair advantage from tax benefits currently available. This problem of perception is inevitable in a system where contributions come out of our pre-tax income.

It Appears that India Will Give a Goods and Services Tax a Try


India is moving towards introducing a Goods and Services Tax (GST). The GST would be a multistage comprehensive value added tax (VAT) encompassing both goods and services. Given the federal structure of India and the fact that taxation powers have been constitutionally assigned to different governments, the introduction of a GST would be a major indirect tax reform since independence. Both the federal and state governments will have concurrent taxation rights at every stage of production and distribution.