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Switzerland appears to succumb to pressure on banking regulations

June 23, 2009 by  

Switzerland appears to succumb to pressure on banking regulations Media reports have suggested Switzerland is close to an agreement on double taxation with the U.S. and Germany as pressure has been mounting on the country to relax its banking secrecy laws.

However, Swiss Finance Minister Hans-Rudolf Merz said his government’s support for the agreement will ultimately depend on how the stalemate over Switzerland’s largest bank UBS is resolved.

The U.S. Internal Revenue Service is pursuing a civil lawsuit against UBS seeking access to data on 52,000 wealthy Americans it claims are hiding nearly $15 billion of assets in Swiss bank accounts.

Meanwhile, the Swiss minister and his German counterpart have reportedly agreed on a revision of their double taxation agreement ahead of a summit of Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development finance ministers today.

The developments stem from the consensus reached earlier this year during the the G20 summit in London. Blaming offshore tax havens as contributing to the current financial crisis, the leaders of the world’s most industrialized nations vowed to crack down on tax evasion by introducing cross-border regulation.

The OECD has estimated that $1.7 trillion to $11.5 trillion dollars are being held in tax havens around the world.

An agreement with the U.S. is considered crucial to Switzerland’s removal from the list of tax havens.

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  • Henry Northampton

    First, the US Government’s arrogance appalls me. They act like we’re allowed to keep only that part of the wealth we create that they allow us to have. Our Republic survived just fine until 1913 without individual income taxes.

    This could be bad news for a relatively small percentage of the US population, but it would have little or no effect on the average Swiss. Twenty-seven cantons make most of the decisions, they way it used to be here until about 100 years ago. Their nation is much less centralized than the U.S. Relatively little of their foreign trade is with the U.S. They don’t need our protection. They aren’t one of our lackey states. We make a mistake if we think our Federal Government can dictate to theirs.

    It’s sad testimony to how cozy banksters everywhere are with political weasels that the Swiss would even consider changing their law to suck up to UBS. That may be their largest bank but they have several hundred others that do relatively little foreign business.

  • Paul Bosco

    Re: Henry N’s comment, “Our Republic survived just fine until 1913 without individual income taxes.”

    I’m not sure about the historical accuracy, here. Individuals paid taxes posthumously after Teddy Roosevelt started estate taxes.

    More to the point, what is the basis for saying the nation was “fine”? Lower infant mortality? Longer lifespans? Better programs on TV? Higher electoral participation by women & minorities? Lower poverty and a higher percentage of millionaires (measured in constant dollars)? More college grads?

    My guess is, the statement was tossed off without any real thought. This characterizes so much of the varied criticisms of government –probably in all countries. It does not make for useful public discourse.

    About Swiss banking laws and secrecy, I believe all Americans should pay their fair share of taxes, and no entity should be tolerated that exists to profit by thwarting that process.

    • Murray

      Paul Bosco:

      What is YOUR basis for implicitly crtiticizing the first poster by asking:

      “More to the point, what is the basis for saying the nation was “fine”? ”

      Whether or not any of the metrics you toss out with question marks are those that should be used to define “fine”, YOU would first have to demonstrate that any of those metrics were brought about BY government action and its ability to “steal” more of our money.

      And to answer your question more broadly: The US between 1870 and about 1905 enjoyed a greater growth of economic activity and prosperity than had ever before, and not much more since, been seen on this whole earth, anywhere.

      Try to ascribe that to the extra take of government taxation, or government action fo the kind you are implying.

      As to Switzerland: Your argument presupposes that there is some natural and fair level of taxation, and for some entities to allow that to be undercut is wrong.
      But YOU are wrong, the only fair and natural level of taxation is ZERO, so those not RAISING any, or much less, are not in the wrong.

      Or do you think that states of the US that do not have income tax or sales tax are helping people to cheat places such as CA, or NJ?

      And a foreing country has, or should have, NO obligation to assist others in fighting their own problems.
      That goes for taxes in Switzerland, “drugs” in Colombia or Bolivia, and EVEN so-called terrorist activity in the Middle East.
      All the US and Germany, amongst other are doing, is bullying those they believe they can. ANY avenue left to help otherwise law-abiding citizens to remove some tax revenue from the MOLOCHS of Washington DC, ro Berlin, or Brussels, etc is a good thing, as any revenue withheld, means that much less government malfeasance, strong-man action, and general socialistic plunder.

      • Paul Bosco

        1) I did not know the word “moloch”. Thankyou! I think it will be useful to me.

        2) My point about the nation being “fine” before 1913 was not particularly the True or False, but the casualness with which such assertions are tossed off.

        3) ZERO taxes? Our nation’s prosperity is built on an infrastructure that is largely the product of tax-enabled government. Do you really not want cops & public schools?

        4) 1870-1905 GDP growth. I don’t have the numbers. Underdeveloped nations can have percentage increases in GDP that mature economies can’t. It’s just a matter of tapping stored-up potential. I’m proud to say, much of that turn-of-the-century growth rate was due to my Italian immigrant grandparents and others of the “wretched refuse” from Europe.

        5) American interventionism is a near sickness, but I don’t go quite as far as you. Do we really surrender God’s Earth to global warming, acid rain and the like, because we don’t want to pay to send a delegation to an international convention? Were we not our brother’s keeper in Armenia (1915), Europe (1944) and Rwanda? Can it really be that paying ZERO TAXES is the best way to do a little good in the world?

        –Paul J. Bosco

        • Chris

          3) ZERO taxes?

          My point is, that is the natural level, from which political entities deviate in an increasing fashion. Why natural, because there is NO SUCH THING in nature as taxation. When we barely started walking, we they did not exist, and over time their burden has gone from low to high.
          Rember your history class, how the serfs in Europe 1000 years ago were so poorly treated, by having to give away a TENTH of their gross harvest/earnings/production?
          Boy, I sure would LOVE to give just a tenth of my gross!

          However, large states, such as the US and Germany, in their criticism of Switzerland, or soon Austria, as TAX-HAVENS, or TAX-OASIS, implicitly assume that THEIR tax level is the moral norm, and anyone taking much less is wrong and helping to cheat them. The latter is not true.

          Our nation’s prosperity is built on an infrastructure that is largely the >product of tax-enabled government.

          True. Is that the only way possible though?

          Do you really not want cops & public schools?

          Actually, no. Public schools have been turned into indoctrination clinics, where our children are taught to believe ONE truth, even if that goes against their parents values. That one truth of course changes over time, but it is the truth of those in power over the school system, whatever their truth is. Do our schools teach about the real Abraham Lincoln, his serial violation of the US Constitution during the war? Do they teach, that FDT stole the people’s real money, gold, and then devalued the dollar by 75%, and that he perpetuated the Depression? Or for that matter, his agressive, provocatory policies towards Japan all throughout the 1930′s?

          As to cops:
          The notion of the police as being to serve and protect, is a great one. Maybe at one time it worked. Then again, almost a hundred years ago, big business used these servers and protectors to bust up peacuful strikes in the most violent fashion, they extorted corruptly in the big city machines, etc. Today?
          You only need read the ever increasing spates of police brutatlity, police overreaching, and general officer malfeasance, esp. when not on duty. In NJ, a cop kills 2 women while speeding, off duty, at 80+, no punishment. In San DIego an off duty cop rapes a women, no punishment, 72 year old ladies get tasered, and in Oklahoma a distraught mom, rushing to her dead little girls side (murder) is forcibly thrown to the ground and arrested.
          Not to mention cops GENERALLY now assaulting people filming their malfeasance, and threatening the physically and with arrest if they don’t turn of the camera, even reporters. Why, because teh cop ordered him to, and you better obey.
          They are, and have become, an ever more militarized, crew cuts and all, fascist internal army. It will not get better if we do not protest.
          AND , their UNIONS are bankrupting us, in the North East, cops with less than 8-10 year jobtime, get 80,000+ pay, plus free health care and free retirement. Average Americans make maybe 1/3 of that, and they better obey the man.

          Do we really surrender God’s Earth to global warming

          No, we won’t because it is a fraudulent concept. While 3000 respected scientists have signed onto Gore and Company in recent petitions, there are over 31,000 American physicists, meteoroligsts, chemists, engineers, oceanographers, and other hard-scientists of the fields involved, who have currently signed the “warming hoax” (my term) petition.
          The concept of a global climate protection ideology, on should say religious dogma, was notable pushed by Robert Heilbronner, when he years ago, so this vehicle as the way for socialism to proceed, when he recognised, that the system of socialism can not prevail economically.
          Thus, the political agenda came first, the specifics later.
          Its July 10th in the North East, we have had 2-3 90+ days ALL year so far, and not a single cicada is to be heard. This morning it was 57, at the hight of sumer. Global warming indeed.

          Were we not our brother’s keeper Europe (1944) and Rwanda?

          Whether we were or not, doesn’t make it right. Our children do not have to be killed, and our treasury looted, for our “leaders” causes, that sound so moral, yet have no substance. It is not our responsibility to right the wrongs of the world, even if we could define these in an unconflicted, unselfish way, which itself is impossible.
          Oliver Stone showed it very well in “Nixon”, when the President is told by THEM, that he can not end the war.

    • Ed

      Please read (and understand!) “The Fair Tax Book” and “FairTax:THE TRUTH” by Neal Boortz and John Linder. FairTax is NOT a sales tax and FairTax is NOT a “Value Added” tax. Fair Tax REPLACES the IRS. To say more here would be both inadequate and too lengthy.

  • Paula

    Greed is the root cause of the many problems facing our communities, states, and the Federal Government. The good ole boys with secret hand shakes, greasing one anothers palms to make a deal that goes against our constitution etc. is business as usual. I for one have made my vote count but so many of us throw up our hands in disgust and say what does my vote matter and then do not vote. Pitty that they give up/in without seeing the consequenses of this faltering. We all must do what is needed, fax, write letters, call, email all your concerns, complaints, be respectful but let your voice be heard. If not we loose our Constitution, independence, and freedoms.

    • Paul Bosco

      Dear Chris–

      Addressing just a couple of your points:

      TAXES & INFRASTRUCTURE. The Golden Gate Bridge is an example of private enterprise. However, public works for profit are rare. The weight of evidence is that the profit motive is an unreliable distributor of many services we deem necessary, like roads, air-traffic control, first-class mail, electrical grids…

      ABOLISHING PUBLIC SCHOOL is a cure WAY worse than the disease. Compared to private education, it is almost classless. Maybe we will always be governed by the rich, but with the merit-based opportunities that public schools create, the rich don’t always have the same names. As for your implicit alternative.H OME-SCHOOLING, I feel the more of us who DON’T grow up like our parents, the better.

      GLOBAL WARMING, according to John Marburger, Bush’s science advisor (physicist & former President of State U of NY at Stony Brook), is a settled fact throughout the scientific community. Even W got the message, altho being a slow learner it took him about 7 years.

      THE POLICE have been tools of the ruling class, moreso historically, but “the more things change…” Instances of abuse and violence by police are systemic, in my opinion, but still rare enough that Law Enforcement is a big net plus. My brother was a cop, by the way. I’ve met cops in the course of fairly human interaction, and I usually like them.

      Odd, that your stinging indictment of the police, and their role, is coupled with a dismissal of the RWANDA GENOCIDE as someone else’s biased judgment of evil. This was not “our leaders’ cause”, it was a cry rising from the people, both the “liberals” and a broad swath of the religious.

      CHRIS, it was nice to read your positions, which are considered, rather than dogmatic knee-jerk drivel. It would also be nice if your take on the world was 100% correct. Like mine, of course!

      I remember in the Vietnam years, “conservatives” did not speak truth to power. They always supported authority. Today, there are conservatives who are against hunger and against conscription and adventurist, “elective” war. I think there is hope in America.

      –Paul J. Bosco

  • Ken

    I’ll stand with Paul & Ed. Paul Bosco, you need to go livi in a nice controlled socialist country like Russia or China. I’m for more individual responsibility, lower taxes, LOCAL cops, Local schools, and the abolishment of IRS, National teacher’s union (NEA), endowment from the arts, Commerce Dept, EPA, and all those other nasty socialist freedom sucking non accountable entities. For an example, try the EPA cutting of water to California’s central valley fo protect a minnow like smelt fish. Stupidity in the max!!!

    Ken in Utah

    • Mike B

      For an example, try the EPA cutting of water to California’s central valley fo protect a minnow like smelt fish. Stupidity in the max!!!
      You W A Y over simplify.

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