Still wondering what the Occupation Movement is protesting about in New York, thousands of other American cities, and now hundreds of cities throughout the world?
Then read the article headed We need a global army of tax collectors in today's Globe & Mail. In it, Doug Saunders does the world a favour by calling our attention to a study which shows the vast riches hidden from the tax authorities by wealthy people living in the developed and poor countries.
Here are some extracts for you to ponder, and sprinkle into your conversation with your family, friends and colleagues for the next week or so:
But, as it happens, there’s a trillion to be found. It could easily be obtained without raising taxes: We just need to start applying our current taxes to all the money people actually earn. In fact, the debt crisis would end overnight if we did that in a concerted way.
The monitoring group Global Financial Integrity estimates that people and companies are stashing away $9.4-trillion in secret offshore banks in places such as Luxembourg, Singapore and the Virgin Islands to avoid paying taxes on it. That’s $2-trillion more than all the money held in all the banks in the United States. Taxed at 11 per cent (a fraction of what’s actually owed on it), this would yield an instant trillion.
And the problem of crooks not paying taxes is not restricted to the developed countries:
This isn’t just a problem for wealthy countries; in fact, it’s probably the biggest problem in the developing world. As Anatol Lieven observes in Pakistan: A Hard Country, “barely 1 per cent of the population pays income tax, and the wealthiest landowners pay no direct taxes at all.” As a Peshawar tax auditor told him, “If anyone took taxes seriously, I’d have the most difficult job in the world, but as it is I have the easiest.” And Pakistan, from what I’ve seen, is far from exceptional.
Poor countries, according to Global Financial Integrity, lose more than $1-trillion in tax revenues a year to tax-free offshore banks. That’s about 10 times the world’s foreign aid combined, and four or five times the annual sum that some believe would end poverty completely.
So the OccupyWallStreet protestors now have some really good ammunition to back up their general complaints about the system being broken, the 1% getting away with murder, and the 99% being shafted.