Letter from the Chairman, no 6
Stockholm January 19th 2015
Dear members and friends of the World Taxpayers Associations!
The circulation of this letter has gradually increased and now reaches some 200 persons around the world! I am very pleased with this and will work to continue to make it interesting and useful, as well as with a personal touch.
Our big news this month is the release of our new web page. You will notice our new logo above and we are very happy to have the new page launched. It has a totally new and modern graphic approach and ease of navigation. We plan for it to be a major tool both for policy and official contacts and for the use of the members.
Do log in on www.worldtaxpayers.org I hope you like what you see. This is a start – we will continue to work on it and update the content and add to it, but we felt it was important to get this new platform launched now, even if not everything is perfect!
The members’ area is still being developed and we will send you the log in information in a couple of weeks or so. Here we will share experience, have special information for the members available with very practical tools and ideas, and also of course a members list to make communications with other members easy.
Freedom under pressure
The tragic events in France has dominated the world news the last ten days. We feel deeply for the families and collegues of those brutally killed in the Paris attacks and extend our sympathies.
The events have also led to a gigantic affirmation of the importance of freedom – of freedom of speech, of freedom to worship in your own way, freedom to have a differing opinion. WTA wants to be a strong voice for freedom. We also hope that our members can feel the support of and can refer to our world wide network in their local efforts to work for freedom from corruption and for openness and transparency in the use of taxpayers money.
Open the books – transparency in action
One of the most interesting speeches at the WTA Vancouver conference was Adam Andrzejewski of OPEN THE BOOKS campaign. You can hear Andrews speech here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OZoPmJ4ZdYs
The target for this year is to review some 3 billion dollars of public spending. Publication or links from the Forbes site has led to 180.000 hits via Internet. Here is the link to the Forbes page: http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com/render?ca=6a910e7a-‐5bd1-‐ 4218-‐9a1d-‐e41379024145&c=eba23db0-‐e1b7-‐11e3-‐ab44-‐ d4ae52754950&ch=ebcdba80-‐e1b7-‐11e3-‐ab62-‐d4ae52754950 and the annual overview of Open The Books here http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com/render?ca=6a910e7a-‐5bd1-‐4218-‐9a1d-‐e41379024145&c=eba23db0-‐e1b7-‐11e3-‐ab44-‐d4ae52754950&ch=ebcdba80-‐e1b7-‐ 11e3-‐ab62-‐d4ae52754950
Andrew has been confronted with a lot of bullying, arm twisting and resistance, but has pushed on and even been encouraged by the dust he has stirred up. A great example!
Many of our organizations are doing similar things – fighting waste through exposing it. The German Taxpayers publish a “Black Book” on public waste every year. The book is widely quoted and keeps politicians and administrators on their toes, not to end up in this less than flattering connection. You can find a copy of the book in German here. http://www.schwarzbuch.de/
“Someone else is paying”. The Swedish Taxpayers Organization introduced the “Ombudsman on Waste” – actually using irony and producing a series of films on the basic theme “Someone else is paying”. The film from 2014 has been seen by a quarter million viewers on you-‐tube and has also been shown on public TV. You can see one of the films on you-‐tube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vdi-‐Lg9pwkY There are many other short films on the same page. In one films the interviewer walks around the street in a town and asks people of the sidewalk if they would like to contribute about 20 dollars for him to play bowling that afternoon. People were astounded and said no – and were informed that that was in fact what they were doing through their taxes!
National Taxpayer Union in the US, NTU, publishes a number of reports on government waste. We will list several of these on our web page, members section shortly. I found the report and summary about the OECD especially interesting, as it also give some background on that organization. Here is a link to that report: http://www.ntu.org/foundation/detail/continental-‐drift-‐oecds-‐imported-‐fiscal-‐ policies-‐for-‐america
Another review is something as seemingly natural as creating a true land assessment of property owned by the US Government, i e the Taxpayers. With lack of proper control there is lots of space for inefficiencies and perhaps even corruption or fraud. Read more here http://www.ntu.org/governmentbytes/detail/ntu-‐supports-‐hr-‐916-‐the-‐federal-‐ land-‐asset-‐inventory-‐reform-‐flair-‐act-‐of-‐2013
In China Mr Feng Liu is concentrating his work on the Chinese Taxpayers Association, an umbrella organization organizing some 30 regional taxpayers organizations. The organization in Beijing is the largest one in China and now has separate leadership. Mr Liu has sent us an interesting report on changes to the Chinese Taxation system, which we will publish on the web page. The news include simplifying the rules for investments in the Free Trade Zones and a forthcoming individual tax reform aiming to simplifying the personal income tax.
In Canada the Internet is used to the maximum in the battle against a new addition to the VAT tax connected to the building of a new railway and road system across Canada. The page points out how the costs for this can easily be funded in the automatic increase in tax revenue due to increased salary levels and economic growth. It is well worth looking at and learning from these campaign pages which also are getting a lot of media coverage. http://www.notranslinktax.ca/
Marketing and fund raising
I will be brief on these questions this time – I think the examples above give plenty of ideas.
The one thought I would like to leave with you is that direct marketing to be successful is almost more mathematics than creativity. Keeping track, analyzing the results on different files. So when working with a consultant on this or hiring someone – rather get the careful, mathematically oriented person than the brilliantly creative one!
Then the old rule from file management from the Readers Digest – your members (or donors) can be divided into three categories: The new on your latest campaign, the first repeat and your base file. So it is only on the third renewal or donation that the person becomes a member of the all important “Base file”. That is where the money is and where your true followers are! Treat these three different groups differently and follow them up separately and your success will increase!
This time I would just refer you to our new web page. Under “Success stories” there are some very good examples, explained in some detail. We will add to these and do shorter stories with links, but these examples are well worth reading!
The invoices for the member fees will be on the way to your shortly, based on your previously reported membership level. According to the statutes 500 $ for the first 5.000 members or donors in the last year and then 10 dollars for each additional 1.000. It works out to 10 cents per member.
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation have generously taken over the administration of our finances so the invoice will be e-‐mailed from Canada and the account is now in US Dollars in Canada.
We look forward to your news – and your feed back on www.worldtaxpayers.com!
Chairman World Taxpayers Federation
Phone+ 46 708 15 04 95