Letter from the Chairman

WTA Chairman’s Update #4 – January-March 2017

Section: Letter from the Chairman / Members Highlights / WTA Blog
19 January 2017

 

January-March 2017

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 cristinaberechet@worldtaxpayers.org.

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 sarah.elliott@worldtaxpayer.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.  

 

 

 

 

 

Meeting with Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance Executive Director Tim Andrews in Sydney, Australia. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.”

 

Member News

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

We are pleased to welcome a new taxpayer protection group in the United States called The Tax Revolution Institute. They are backing a project to audit the IRS. Check it out here.

 

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.

 

Recommended Reading

Human Freedom Index: Where Does Your Country Stand?

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.

The Decline of Global Inequality: Bjorn Lomborg

A thoughtful and counter-intuitive piece asking if 2016 was the best year ever?

Africa Research Institute: 10 Things to Watch in 2017

 

Annual Reviews

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!

 

Troy Lanigan
Chair, World Taxpayers Associations
President, Canadian Taxpayers Federation

E-mail | troy.lanigan@worldtaxpayers.org
Skype | troy_lanigan

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WTA Letter from the Chairman – Autumn 2016

Section: Letter from the Chairman / Members Highlights / WTA Blog
18 October 2016

Autumn 2016
WTA members, observers and friends,

It was my great pleasure to attend the Liberty Forum put on by Atlas Network in Miami in September where I met with new UK TaxPayers Alliance Chief Executive John O’Connell; Marusa Pozvek of the Slovenia Taxpayers; Krunoslav Saric from Lipa in Croatia; Lorenzo Montanari from Americans for Tax Reform; Tim Andrews of Australian Taxpayers Alliance and for the first time Jose Beteta of Respect for Taxpayershttp://respeto.pe/ from Peru. Much work needs to be done developing taxpayer groups in central and South America so it was of particular interest to meet Jose. Congratulations to all of you on the great work you are doing!

Also in Miami was the opportunity to meet the heads of several think tanks from around the globe which we will add to our “friends” list and encourage the complimentary exchange advocacy groups popularizing and advancing the important work think tanks are doing.

Finally, I met with Shari Williams from the Krieble Foundation to update her on recent activities of WTA and thank the foundation for its support of WTA.

Tax Freedom Day and Tax Competition

In Miami, I had the opportunity to meet with Scott Hodge who is President of the Washington-DC based Tax Foundation. The Tax Foundation created Tax Freedom Day (TFD) which is now used by organizations around the world to illustrate the taxes paid by citizens in various countries.

I talked to Scott about collaborating on methodology for calculating TFD and maybe even a “World Tax Freedom Day” project both of which would be beneficial to WTA member and observer organizations.

Of more immediate interest, the Tax Foundation just released its 2016 International Tax Competitiveness Index. This Index ranks the 35 OECD nations on how competitive their tax systems are based on more than 40 variables—such as corporate taxes, individual taxes, consumption taxes and property taxes. By ranking countries, the Tax Foundation hopes to foster competition in ways that promote growth.

The Index can be a useful tool for WTA member and observer groups to push for reforms in your respective countries. It can be used as a roadmap for 1) identifying the worst aspects of a country’s tax system and 2) focusing lawmakers on which aspects of their tax systems they need to fix.

Scott uses Ireland as an example where he notes the country’s 12.5% corporate tax rate is commendable, but many other aspects of their tax system are very poorly structured—especially the individual tax code—so it does not rank as highly on the Index as the corporate rate might suggest. For the record, Estonia has the most competitive tax system and France the worst. Scott can be reached athodge@taxfoundation.org.

Petitions

CitizenGo and the Austrian Economics Center are asking WTA European member and observer groups to sign their petition opposing the EU’s dangerous tax harmonization policy. The European Commission recently accused Ireland of giving “illegal tax benefits” to Apple. Now, they want Ireland to retroactively charge €13 billion to Apple due to this “unfair” treatment.

This ruling by the European Commission is extremely dangerous. Such an overreach by the EU’s antitrust regulator puts Ireland’s national sovereignty—and the sovereignty of all EU nations—under threat.

Ireland’s policy towards Apple was an intelligent use of tax competition. The European Commission should overturn this ruling and immediately abandon their dangerous and damaging tax harmonization policy. The Commission should respect the national sovereignty and economic freedom of all European nations. The
petition can be found here: http://www.citizengo.org/en/signit/37265/view

You can read the Hibernia Forum’s Eamon Delaney on the issue affecting Ireland here.

Taxpayer Protection Alliance’s Petition to the World Health Organization

David William’s of the Taxpayer Protection Alliance (TPA) is putting together a coalition letter he hopes all WTA member and observer organizations will sign. The letter is to the World Health Organization asking for fiscal responsibility, transparency and press freedom.

To sign the letter, please e-mail David Williams, president of the Taxpayer Protection Alliance: DavidWilliams@protectingtaxpayers.org. The letter must be signed before October 21st.

Youth Outreach and Debt Clock Tour in Canada

In 2013, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation founded Generation Screwed (en françaisGeneration Trompee), a campus-based initiative to inform and mobilize young Canadians to push back against government debts, unfunded liabilities and roadblocks to economic development that impede future opportunity and prosperity. This past September, recruitment booths were set-up on 27 campuses across the country. We believe in just three short years it has become the country’s largest pro-limited government student group in Canada. A similar group has been created in the UK (http://www.taxpayersalliance.com/the_taxpayers_alliance_at_liberty_league_s_freedom_forum). I encourage WTA member and observer groups to consider a similar initiative as an investment in the future of your organization and country. To learn more contact Aaron Gunn (agunn@taxpayer.com).

The CTF took its National Debt Clock across the country this past summer and also to 13 campuses in September where Generation Screwed coordinators organized student events.  A video can be seen here.  To learn more about creating your own rolling debt clock display contact Scott Hennig (shennig@taxpayer.com)

Lithuanian Free Market Institute’s Tax Calculator

The Lithuanian Free Market Institute (LFMI) has developed a great tool called the Tax Calculator, and they want to share it with you! The tax calculator can be found athttp://mokumokescius.lt/en/

Here’s how it works: one indicates the individual net wage income, the amount of income and social security contributions (and a breakdown of these), and then travels through personal expenditures to see what taxes are paid every time money is spent on different categories of goods or services. At the end, one receives a personal Tax Freedom Day as well as a personal bill from the government showing how the government spends your earnings.

LFMI can help other groups to replicate the tax calculator and even provide resources. LFMI has adapted the tax calculator for Poland http://sprawdzpodatki.pl. Institute of Economic and Social Studies (INESS) in Slovakia has created an app based on the concept and design. The Economic Institute Molinari is now working on a French version, the Bendukidze Free Market Center is developing it for Ukraine, and they are guiding a group in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Centre for Policy and Governance.

If you are interested in adapting this Tax Calculator to your country, please contact their Development & Programs Director, Aneta Vainė: aneta@freema.org. They are eager to help!

WTA in Germany’s Handelsblatt

Here is the multi-page edition of the World Taxpayers Conference 2016 featured in Germany’s widely-circulated and respected Handelsblatt with in-depth articles and photos. It was a great time had by all, and our most diverse conference to date! Look for photos of yourself and feel free to publish on your organization’s website handelsblatteventeditionmay2016

Upcoming Visits

I will be in New Zealand visiting WTA member organization the New Zealand Taxpayers Union on November 18th followed by a trip across the Tasman Sea November 25th to meet with both the Australian Taxpayers Alliance and Taxpayers Australia who will be hosting the next World Taxpayers Conference in Melbourne in 2019.

In closing I’d like to encourage you to please visit our website and our Facebook group. Our community is only as strong and as beneficial as we choose to make it. So please, work with our Secretary General Sarah Elliott to feed good content into our network!

Keep up the fight!

Troy Lanigan
Chair, World Taxpayers Associations
President, Canadian Taxpayers Federation

E-mail | troy.lanigan@worldtaxpayers.org
Skype | troy_lanigan

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Letter from the Chairman, No 16

Section: Letter from the Chairman / WTA Blog
19 December 2015

Letter from the Chairman, no 16

Stockholm December 19th 2015

Dear members and friends of the World Taxpayers Associations!

The news of an increase in interest rates from the Fed in the US is getting headlines this morning. What does it mean? The large economic answer is that in a normal economic cycle the consumer driven US economy picks up first, closely followed by the financially driven British economy. The countries depending on export of heavy, investment machinery lags 1.5-2 years behind, like Germany or Sweden. The difference today is of course the large importance of China both in the consumer and industrial side – and increasingly like the US depending on the attitude of the interior consumers.

The low price of oil also plays an important role – stimulating spending but holding back some investments. The Saudi rulers seem to want to keep the pressure on their political and religious opponents in Iran, Iraq, Syria – and Russia.

The new contacts between Russia and the US might be the road to peace in Syria. With a military cooperation between the US, EU and Russia in Syria the war could soon be over. But on the way, agreements would have to be made both on the future of the Assad regime in Syria and the Russian attitude and activities in eastern Ukraine. For 2016, it unfortunately seems that we will continue with the same uncertainties and problems.

On the Conference of Parties (COP21) final “agreement” (more of a letter of intent actually) companies are starting to get on the band wagon in a much larger scale not to be hurt by new policies and rather to get part of the government subsidies and investments in “green” projects. The economic rational seems to take a back seat as well as the effective use of tax money. The World Bank wants 100 billion dollars per year to invest in the developing world. The terms are more favorable than commercial loans, but most of the investments are still to be considered loans and make the receiving countries dependent on the support and directives of the Washington based institution and its 10,000 employees. More will be added to handle the increasing tasks. This may or may not be the fastest way to a higher living standard in these countries.

World Taxpayers Conference 2016 – 17-20th March 2016 – Berlin:

We are getting close to the end of the year, and we urgently want an indication of your interest and the dates you want to participate. The hotel rates definitely go up January 15th, so we are trying to at least make preliminary books for all who are interested. This will save you money and make the planning easier.

You have a summary of the conference themes and dates on our web page under http://worldtaxpayers.org/conferences-events/

Do write to Sarah Elliott at sarah.elliott@worldtaxpayers.org with “Interest in WTA Conference” in the subject line. Then we can catch your interest and can plan. Write as well if you have specific needs, are in need of some financial support to attend the conference etc. We have a few scholarship openings.

WTA Conference Scholarships:

Please contact Sarah Elliott, sarah.elliott@worldtaxpayer.org, with “WTA Scholarship Application” in the subject line, answering these questions in the email: 1. Why are you interested in attending the WTA Conference? 2. What are your biggest goals for your organization in the upcoming year? 3. How much would you be able to contribute to your attendance?

VISA Assistance for the WTA Conference:

Don’t wait until the last minute!

Do a need a Visa?

Please visit the following link for a list of countries whose citizens need a visa to enter Germany.

How do I apply for a visa?

Please visit the German Immigration Service website for general information about the requirements for applying for a visa and the application process.

Important note: A registration confirmation letter from Taxpayers Association of Europe be required when applying for a visa. Please see who to contact below.

When and where do I apply for a visa?

Please be aware that the visa application process can take a considerable amount of time. You may submit your visa application 3 months before your departure date to Germany; however, all necessary application paperwork must be obtained and completed in advance to ensure that you are prepared to submit your application exactly 3 months prior to departure.

Please consult the website of the relevant German Embassy for information about how and where to apply for visa. A list of all German Embassies can be found here

If you need Visa assistance from the conference organizers – please email Daniel Junker – d.junker@steuerzahler.de, and cc Michael.Jaeger@taxpayers-europe.org and sarah.elliott@worldtaxpayers.org with ”VISA Assistance – WTA Conference” in the subject line.

Speakers

We have a very high number of experts to discuss the main themes of international stability and conditions for economic growth, public private partnerships and the future of infrastructure investments, good governance in practice and currency issues including cross border taxation.

Some of our confirmed speakers include Mark Littlewood, Director General of the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) in the UK, Prof Neville Norman, Professor of Economics at the University of Melbourne, Laurent Picheral, CEO Hotel Services Central and Eastern Europe ACCOR Hotels, Dr. Joachim Nagel, Member of Board of the German Central Bank, and James Delingpole, journalist, author and broadcaster, winner of the Bastiat Prize for Journalism.

The seminar side gives a wide selection for your interests – from the latest in social media, to fundraising and even styling and appearance coaching.

The conference also gives a unique chance of broadening you contacts as the European Resource Bank will be part of our activities and with a separate pre program including leading international economic experts.

But the most important part might be the exchange you can have with like-minded persons in your general geographic area, the interchange and sharing of experiences and the facilitating of future contacts of great value for your organization.

Member activities
The Swedish Taxpayers are putting the finger on the large number of very expensive infrastructure projects. The politicians generally love these to make their mark, they usually run way over original budget and there is little analysis of smarter and cheaper alternatives. The latest “fad” is high-speed rail connections even though the upkeep of current train lines could be better…

Jonathan Isaby, Chief executive of the British Taxpayers Alliance writes in the Daily Telegraph and other papers about the need for a robust Freedom of Information Act. Read his article here (sorry for the long link add it together if broken…). http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/council-spending/12041981/Public-bodies-are-trying-to-destroy-Freedom-of-Information-the-same-law-that-holds-them-to-account.html?utm_source=TPA+Supporters&utm_campaign=aa33001bed-151023_TPA_Bulletin10_23_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_fded8e0455-aa33001bed-417856741&mc_cid=aa33001bed&mc_eid=6bad081cb4

The freedom of public information is an important key to more transparency and lower taxes.

OECD tax pressure figures
The OECD’s figures of the tax pressure, or taxes share of GNP, are published in this article in the Wall Street Journal. These figures are sometimes questioned as compulsory pension payments are in some countries included in the taxes and in countries like Germany and probably Sweden at least partly not included depending on how they are paid – included in the direct taxes, paid as a tax by the employer or as a compulsory payment by the tax payer.

With this in mind, the figures still give a good indication how taxes within a country change in totality and how the countries compare. Read more here:
http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2015/12/07/how-the-low-tax-u-s-stacks-up-against-other-countries/

The Human Freedom Index – reference and reading

This is an important document comparing the state of freedom in 152 countries around the world based on a number of factors. It is produced by the Fraser Institute in Canada in cooperation with other organisations. You can download or even order a printed copy here:
http://www.cato.org/human-freedom-index

Do write to me or Sarah with any questions on the conference or with questions how we might help you in your efforts. We want you to benefit from our exciting network and its wealth of experience and connections!

Finally we want to wish you a great holiday period and look forward to even closer contacts – and seeing you in 2016!

 

Staffan

Staffan Wennberg

Chairman World Taxpayers Associations

staffan.wennberg@worldtaxpayers.org

Phone+ 46 708 15 04 95

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