Monday, November 26, 2007

The EU hates Switzerland's low taxes

And they are using the flimsiest arguments to attack them. They are claiming that low taxes are "subsidies"!

Another round of fruitless discussions forming part of the ongoing battle between the European Union and Switzerland over the latter's corporate tax system took place in Bern on Monday. But while the European Commission has the obvious weight advantage over its more nimble neighbour, at present Brussels simply doesn't have the legal reach to deliver the knock-out blow that would oblige the Swiss to capitulate to its demands.

The dispute, and the focus of the latest discussions, centres on Switzerland's cantonal tax system. The European Commission considers certain cantonal company tax arrangements to be incompatible with the 1972 Free Trade Agreement - a notion that the Swiss government firmly rejects.

The EC argues these cantonal company tax regulations restrict trade in goods between Switzerland and the EU, and distort competition. However, this is only a part of the debate. At its heart is the Commission's complaint that the cantonal tax systems encourage EU-based firms to set up holding companies in Switzerland to avoid taxes in EU member states.

On the first point, the Swiss delegation, led by Alexander Karrer, Head of the Monetary Affairs and International Finance Division in the Federal Department of Finance, and including representatives from the cantons, argued that Swiss taxes do not distort bilateral trade, because the types of company concerned in Switzerland have no, or at most subordinate, business operations which are taxed normally. Regarding the second point, Karrer's delegation countered that in the case of holding companies, revenues from Swiss sources are taxed in the same way as those from foreign sources. Furthermore, the Swiss emphasised that both domestic and foreign-controlled companies are entitled to take advantage of holding-company privileges.

The European Commission is basing its legal argument against Switzerland on the latter's alleged breach of state aid rules, which, in the EU, are in place to prevent member states from favouring certain companies and industries with beneficial tax rules and subsidies. But the Swiss say that the EC's arguments rest on shaky very legal ground, pointing out that the country is neither an EU member or part of the Single European Market, nor party to the competition regulations of the EC Treaty, including those on state aid. Moreover, Bern insists that even if the tax laws in question were covered by the 1972 Free Trade Agreement, they would not fall under the EU's definition of state aid, because they do not favour certain companies or industries.




I have added a fair bit recently to my "permanent" comments in the side columns of my various blogs. So if you have not looked at them recently you may find something of interest there. I have also put a few things up on my personal blog recently, for what interest that may have. See here or here.

Iraqi school guard and wife beheaded as children watch: "Three suspected al Qaeda militants, including two sisters, beheaded their uncle and his wife, forcing the couple's children to watch, Iraqi police said on Friday. The militants considered that school guard Youssef al-Hayali was an infidel because he did not pray and wore western-style trousers, they told police interrogators after being arrested in Diyala province northwest of Baghdad. The three cousins executed Hayali and his wife Zeinab Kamel at the all-boys school in Jalawlah in Diyala province, village police chief Captain Ahmed Khalifa said..."

Strange Swede: "When I read that a Swede had been arrested for a vicious attack on a man in a pub-brawl in which the man's lip was bitten off, I was surprised. Whenever I had met Swedes either traveling or through business they were always polite, unflappable, and level-headed. Even when drinking way more than we should, the only physical danger you face from a Swede is being bear-hugged to death. There had to be more to this story. Whaddya know? There is... "The victim, a 23-year-old English tourist, suffered six months of painful surgery to repair his face after he was pinned down and half of his bottom lip bitten off to the chin. Diar Abdullah, a 28-year-old native of Sweden, was arrested at Sydney Airport about midday yesterday as he disembarked from a flight from Queensland." I'm just guessing, this native of Sweden probably doesn't have Viking ancestry?"

The Church of homosexuality: "The openly homosexual bishop whose ordination sparked the split in the Anglican Communion has claimed that the Church of England would come close to shutting down if it was forced to manage without gay clergy. The Bishop of New Hampshire in the US, the Right Rev Gene Robinson, who is divorced and lives openly in partnership with a gay man, said that he found it mystifying that the mother Church of the Anglican Communion was unable to be honest about the number of gay clergy in its ranks."

British officers quit army in record numbers: "The army has suffered an unprecedented exodus of more than 1,300 officers in the past six months amid anger about government cost-cutting and equipment shortages. The number quitting is more than double the rate in the previous 12 months and will add to pressure on Gordon Brown about the way his government is funding the armed services. Many of those who have resigned their commissions are from frontline units. Most are captains or majors with invaluable experience of battle. "The loss of a whole swathe of middle-ranking officers will leave us struggling to find the top quality generals of the future," said one senior officer. "But it is clear the government does not care and would be happy to see the army reduced to a token force."

Ian Smith was right: "Ian Smith, the former Rhodesian prime minister, who made his unilateral declaration of independence from Britain in 1965 and fought a bitter rearguard action to prevent black majority rule, never lost the ability to inspire strong emotion... Yet the odd truth is that in retirement after 1980, when Mugabe took over, Smith not only did not fade away but grew both in stature and popularity. As Mugabe's regime became steeped in blood and violence, Africans of all persuasions flocked to Smith's house to consult him. The (all black) student body of Zimbabwe University gave him a standing ovation for his ringing condemnation of "the gangsters", as he always called Mugabe's corrupt ruling mafia. Visiting him at his house in Harare (next to the Cuban embassy, the hammer and sickle flying) I marvelled at the fact that, after the death of his wife Janet, he lived alone with just a cook and minimal security. When he walked the streets of Harare, Africans would almost queue up to grasp his hand and wish him well." [I say more about Ian Smith and Rhodesia here]


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"Why should the German be interested in the liberation of the Jew, if the Jew is not interested in the liberation of the German?... We recognize in Judaism, therefore, a general anti-social element of the present time... In the final analysis, the emancipation of the Jews is the emancipation of mankind from Judaism.... Indeed, in North America, the practical domination of Judaism over the Christian world has achieved as its unambiguous and normal expression that the preaching of the Gospel itself and the Christian ministry have become articles of trade... Money is the jealous god of Israel, in face of which no other god may exist". Who said that? Hitler? No. It was Karl Marx. See also here and here and here.

The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialistisch) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party".


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