Dear WTA Members, Observers, and Friends:
Happy New Year! Hope this finds you well, rested, and ready for 2017.
WTA Secretary General: Changing of the Guard
I’m pleased to announce the appointment of Cristina Berechet as the new Secretary General of World Taxpayers Associations (WTA). Cristina will join WTA in a part-time capacity working from Spain effective immediately. Cristina is currently General Manager of the Spanish Taxpayers Union which she joined in 2016. However, many of you may better remember her with the Spanish think tank Civismo where she served for five years. I’ve had the great pleasure to know Cristina for some time as a thoughtful and important leader in our movement. I’m delighted that she has agreed to join us and look forward to working with her in growing taxpayer advocacy around the world. Please join me in welcoming her. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Of course in saying all of this I was sad to receive an e-mail before Christmas from our current Secretary General Sarah Elliott announcing her intention – for personal reasons – to step down early in 2017. Sarah joined us shortly after the Vancouver conference in 2014 and, alongside chairman Staffan Wennberg, completely rebooted the organization. From a new website, social media presence, administrative practices, strategic plans, budgets, funding proposals and of course events … Sarah had a patient and capable hand in all of it. Thank-you also for the many WTA friends you and your husband Matthew hosted in London. Please join me in sending Sarah a thank-you firstname.lastname@example.org.
Regional Taxpayers Forum Zagreb Croatia April 24-25, 2017
The first of two WTA-sponsored Regional Taxpayer Forums in 2017 will take place in Zagreb, Croatia April 24-25. We are pleased to be working with hosts Lipa and Free Market Road Show (FMRS). FMRS will lead proceedings the morning of April 24. Registration for the event is not yet posted, but we ask that anyone interested please pre-register here as there are only 35 spots available and the event will sell out on a first come, first serve basis. Please note, there is no cost for WTA Members who have paid their dues for 2017 (invoices to go out shortly). Any matters concerning the event should be directed to Cristina. We look forward to welcoming you in Zagreb in April. A date for our next Regional Taxpayers Forum in Bangkok will be confirmed in my next Update.
2017 Member Fees Now Due
Invoices for 2017 WTA member fees will be sent out this month. Please note that events like the Regional Taxpayer Forums are free to paid WTA Members. Our ability to support networking, events, social media, our website and newsletter are all dependent on membership dues, so thank-you in advance for your ongoing support! This year we will provide a formal letter of membership embossed with an official WTA seal as per the request of some Member organizations.
A Visit Down Under
I was pleased to be hosted by our friends on a trip to New Zealand and Australia in November. Very special thanks to New Zealand Taxpayers Union, Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance, Taxpayers Australia, Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance and the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA). IPA kindly sponsored a talk I gave in Sydney. Australia will host the next World Taxpayers Conference so it was good to meet with our friends well in advance to make sure we’re supporting the best event possible.
(L to R) WTA Chair Troy Lanigan with Jo Holmes and Carmel Claridge of the Auckland Ratepayers Alliance and Jordan Williams of the New Zealand Taxpayers Union on Waiheke Island.
Meeting with the Board of Directors of Taxpayers Australia who will be the hosts of the 2019 World Taxpayers Conference. (L to R): Moti Kshirsagar (CEO), Robert Krigsman, Troy Lanigan, Mark Dodds (President), Stephen Ware and Terry Blenkinsop.
A ‘Lobbyist for Taxpayers’
Congratulations to WTA Executive Committee Member and President of the National Taxpayers Union, Pete Sepp, who earned a significant profile in the US newspaper, The Hill. The profile comes at an important juncture for tax policy in the United States.
“Pete Sepp started working at the National Taxpayers Union (NTU) in 1988 as a receptionist … Today — as Congress gears up to overhaul the tax code for the first time in more than 30 years — he’s the group’s president.” The article goes on to state: “Pete is just remarkably good about being the good guy when he agrees with you, and when he doesn’t agree with you.”
Well deserved praise for one of the most important taxpayer leaders in the world. Please read the full profile here.
Tax Reform Happening in Eastern Europe
Ukraine: Maryan Zablotskyy, President of the Ukrainian Economics Freedom Foundation (UEFF) reports the Ukrainian Parliament adopted UEFF recommended changes to the tax code, which are expected to be adopted in this year’s State Budget Law.
One of the recommendations allows producers of grapes to set up their own wine production. Previously, the law allowed wine only to be made by the producers of cognac. This created a monopoly allowing cognac producers to dictate the price for grapes.
Now, if grape producers don’t receive a price they are happy with they will be able to produce their own wine. Increased levels of economic freedom will be a boost for the southern regions of Ukraine.
Croatia: The government’s recently-announced tax reform which includes lower personal and business incomes taxes is expected to stimulate private spending and economic growth.
Lipa’s Krunoslav Saric says, “We finally have a [Finance Minister] who understands … with these changes more than half of employees in Croatia will have 0% income tax.”
An article discussing the changes can be found here.
Another positive indicator is falling public debt in Croatia. Saric notes: “we had major campaigns during the last two elections and I think we can take full credit for pushing that problem into the public spotlight and reversing the trend.”
Taxpayer Protection Alliance: United States
Drew Johnson from the Taxpayer Protection Alliance was kicked out of a United Nations meeting stating: “My crime? Being a journalist at a taxpayer-funded meeting where government representatives from 180 countries make decisions that impact 90 percent of the world’s population.” You can read the entire article here. The video can be viewed here.
“One thing that wasn’t recorded was the applause I received from several other journalists … I know my actions reflect thousands of journalists across the globe who feel the UN and its agencies have become unaccountable to the public and combative towards the press.”
The Tax Revolution Institute: United States
Taxpayers Alliance Ghana: Ghana
Taxpayers Alliance Ghana (TAG) president Frank Asiedu issued a statement congratulating new president of Ghana Nana Addo Danquah Akuffo Addo. TAG implores the incoming president to make good on his business-friendly tax proposals. TAG will work collaboratively with the government to implement tax regimes that will spur growth and create jobs for the youth of Ghana.
Momentum 107: Hong Kong
Congratulations to Raymond Ho and Momentum 107 on their celebration in December, commemorating nine years as a successful and vibrant organization in Hong Kong!
The Taxpayers Union of Bulgaria: Bulgaria
Congratulations to Nikolay Popov and the Taxpayers Union of Bulgaria that celebrated 25 years in December!
Slovenian Taxpayers Association: Slovenia
Slovenian Taxpayer Association’s Marusa Pozvek (right) was honoured to be invited and to participate in the Liberty Fund Colloquium hosted by Federico Fernandez of the Austrian Economics Center in Vienna. The invitation-only event uses the Socratic method to discuss the relationship between freedom, markets, and culture.
Lithuanian Free Market Institute: Lithuania
In high schools across the world, most students graduate without any exposure to the concepts of market economics. The Lithuanian Free Market Institute (LFMI), based in Vilnius, sought to change that by developing its Economics in 31 Hours textbook, which was awarded the prestigious $100,000 Templeton Freedom Award this past November. The award, generously supported by the Templeton Religion Trust, was presented during Atlas Network’s Freedom Dinner this past November in New York City.
Congratulations to Žilvinas Šilėnas and his colleagues at the Lithuanian Free Market Institute! See the video here.
The Human Freedom Index 2016 presents the state of human freedom in the world based on a broad measure that encompasses personal, civil, and economic freedom. Co-published by the Cato Institute, the Fraser Institute, and the Liberales Institut at the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom.
Human freedom is a social concept that recognizes the dignity of individuals and is defined here as negative liberty or the absence of coercive constraint. Because freedom is inherently valuable and plays a role in human progress, it is worth measuring carefully. The Index can be found here.
A thoughtful and counter-intuitive piece asking if 2016 was the best year ever?
Many members have asked about creating and formatting annual reviews for your respective supporters and donors. Here are two really good examples of how it’s done:
UK’s Taxpayers’ Alliance: http://www.taxpayersalliance.com/annual_reviews
New Zealand’s Taxpayers’ Union: http://www.taxpayers.org.nz/tags/annual_review
In closing I’d like to encourage everyone to please visit our website and our Facebook group. Our community is only as strong and as beneficial as we choose to make it. Please work with our new Secretary General Cristina Berechet to feed good content into our network.
Keep up the fight!
Chair, World Taxpayers Associations
President, Canadian Taxpayers Federation
E-mail | email@example.com
Skype | troy_lanigan