WTA Chairman’s Update #8: January-March 2018

Section: Letter from the Chairman / Members Highlights / WTA Blog
25 January 2018


Dear WTA Members, Observers, and Friends:

Regional Taxpayers Forum Bangkok Thailand, December 8-10, 2017
Thirty-two delegates from 16 countries joined in Bangkok this past December for the second WTA-sponsored Regional Taxpayers Forum of 2017. Attendees shared ideas on fundraising, strategic planning, tax reform, tax competition and social media. Following the main event, a meeting of the Asia Pacific Taxpayers Union took place where Chinese Taxpayers Union president Mr. Liu was confirmed as chairman.
Thank-you to everyone who participated! Special thanks to Cristina Berechet and Bjorn Tarras-Wahlberg for your work in organizing a great event!

We were pleased to welcome WTA’s newest member, India Taxpayers and its president, Shantha Kumar (Right) alongside APTU chairman Fengjiang Liu (Left).

Also, our two WTA interns, Olivia Maso and Nick Marsh joined us in Bangkok and had the opportunity to interview WTA members present for the Taxpayers’ Resource Guide that will be published later in the year.

Next Events:
Regional Taxpayers Forum in Copenhagen Denmark May 28, 2018
The first WTA-sponsored Regional Taxpayers Forum of 2018 will take place in Copenhagen Denmark, May 28. The World Taxpayers Associations along with The Tax Foundation and Americans for Tax Reform are pleased to invite European and international delegates to join us for a discussion on tax policy.

Registration and fees:
If you have paid your 2018 Membership Fee to the WTA, there is no cost for you to attend this event. Please e-mail Melanie Harvie at melanie.harvie@worldtaxpayers.org for your discount code. The code is valid for two registrants within your organization up to April 30. After that, an administration fee of 50 USD per person will be charged.
For other individuals, the conference has a fee of 50 USD per person and it includes conference materials, coffee breaks, lunch and evening reception.
Please act soon, space is limited! You can register here.

Comwell Conference Center
Center Boulevard 5
DK 2300 Copenhagen S
Web: https://www.comwellconferencecopenhagen.dk/

A draft agenda will be posted shortly on the WTA website. We look forward to welcoming you in Denmark in May.

Regional Taxpayers Forum in Lima, Peru, October 12-14th 2018
The second WTA-sponsored Regional Taxpayers Forum of 2018 will take place in Lima, Peru, October 12-14th 2018. The World Taxpayers Associations along with Respect for Taxpayers(Contribuyentes por Respeto) are pleased to invite South-American and international delegates to join us in an exchange of ideas and best practices to advance the taxpayer advocacy in South-America.

17th World Taxpayers Conference in Sydney, Australia May 23-26, 2019
In May 2019 The World Taxpayers Associations along with the Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance and the support of Tax and Super Australia is pleased to invite delegates from across the world to join us in Sydney for four days exchanging ideas and best practices to advance the cause of limited and accountable government.
More information about the conference can be found here.

Member News:
CROATIA: The Black Book of Public Spending
Croatian Taxpayers Alliance Lipa has launched a new project – The Black Book of Public Spending, which documents examples of wasteful spending and raises awareness of citizens and taxpayers about their rights. The Black Book will expose stories of taxpayers’ money being spent in an unnecessary, non-transparent or even illegal manner.
This project was made possible by a crowdfunding campaign that Lipa launched at the end of 2017. The campaign not only reached its target but raised 30 percent more than initially planned!
In 2017, Lipa already managed to stop the Law on Local Taxes with a national petition signed by 150,000 people, saving taxpayers at least 300 million HRK annually.

KOREA: Tax Concessions
December has been a busy month for Korea Taxpayers’ Association – and a headache for lawmakers – as Kim Suntaek (KTA’s president) continued the campaign against excessive tax benefits to religious leaders. On Dec 19, he delivered a 1,000-page petition containing 8,000 names to the Ministry of Strategy & Finance. And on Dec 22 he even managed to gather a group of priests, monks and other civic leaders – supporting the KTA position — to join him in front of the Government Complex in Seoul for a morning of protests.

CANADA: No Escalator Tax
Like the United Kingdom in 2008, the federal government in Canada has introduced an “escalator tax” that automatically raises taxes on beer, spirits and wine each year based on the rate of inflation.
Given that taxes already account for approximately 80 percent of the final price of spirits, 65 to 70 percent for wine and nearly 50 percent for beer, you’d think taxpayers could use a break … but apparently not.
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation has set up a website NoEscalatorTax.ca that allows for visitors to send a quick note off to the finance minister demanding an end to the practice and, borrowing from our friends at the UK TaxPayers’ Alliance we’ve “borrowed” the idea of distributing coasters to bars and restaurants across the country to further support the campaign.
Now let’s hope we’re as successful as the Brits who got their tax abolished in 2014!

United States: Tax Reform Passes!
On December 20th US Congress took a historic step toward rewriting the U.S. tax code for the first time since 1986.
The Tax Foundation analyzed the effects of this reform by using the Taxes and Growth Model that the think tank developed. The Model shows that this legislation over the next decade will boost GDP by 1.7 percent and wages by 1.5 percent while creating 339,000 additional jobs.
Further details on how the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will impact the US’s economy can be found here.
In order understand how the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act would impact real taxpayers the Tax Foundation also released this peace: Who gets a tax cut under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act?

Nevertheless, high-tax states like California and New York are already developing workarounds to mitigate the impact of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act on high-income taxpayers, but will they work?

Scott Hodge, president of the Tax Foundation discussed this issue on Fox News’s Journal Editorial Report.

Brandon Arnold executive vice president of the National Taxpayers Union mentions another big win coming from the recently passed tax reform bill: “Tax reform is huge for brewers, distillers, and winemakers of all sizes”.

Also, the National Taxpayers Union Foundation (NTUF) and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG) released a new report that provides the elected leaders with some much-needed common ground for progress. Suggesting over $260 billion of deficit reduction recommendations with appeal from across the political spectrum, “Toward Common Ground: Bridging the Political Divide with Deficit Reduction Recommendations for Congress” should act as a roadmap for lowering the deficit.

UNITED KINGDOM: Stamp Out the Stamp Duty  
The TaxPayers’ Alliance has long campaigned to scrap stamp duty, a strong contender for the worst single tax in UK’s tax system. The Stamp Out Stamp Duty campaign launched in 2013 has gained new supporters as 25 outstanding think tanks, politicians, newspapers, campaigners and journalists have publically called for stamp duty to be abolished, and joined TaxPayers’ Alliance efforts. The full list of the voices that support abolishing stamp duty organizations can be accessed here.
Also, New TaxPayers’ Alliance research reveals that 9 out of every 10 homes sold in 2021-22 will be subject to Stamp Duty and that nearly half of all homes sold will be subject to stamp duty of five per cent or more, leaving buyers with an average bill of £9,221.
Another TaxPayers’ Alliance research shows that council tax has increased by 57 per cent in real terms over the past twenty years, and that there have been 15 increases for every cut.
Commenting on the research,  John O’Connell, Chief Executive at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said:  “Councils have been raising tax year in, year out for decades, but continue to demand even more. Councilors should remember that council tax is a major burden on residents and a huge contributor to the cost of living. Councils should look to reduce spending before hitting taxpayers with yet another round of painful tax hikes.”

The government announced at the end of last year that it would allow councils to raise council tax by 3per cent, up from 2per cent a year without triggering a local referendum. Including precepts (for social care, police and fire services), taxpayers may see a 5.99 per cent increase in a single year, up from 4.99 per cent.
Click here to read the full research paper.

Taxpayers Associations Europe: Newsletter

The Taxpayers Association of Europe features in its recent newsletter the benefits for SME’s from the enhanced and improved EU Single Market that’s celebrating 25 years in 2018 and also the EU’s proposal to improve transparency and predictability of working conditions. You can access the full newsletter here.


United States: Tax Foundation publishes the 2017 International Tax Competitiveness Index

Hampered by high marginal tax rates and complex business tax rules, the United States again ranks towards the bottom of the pack on the 2017 International Tax Competitiveness Index placing 30 out of 35 OECD countries.
The last time the United States reformed its federal corporate income tax was in 1986. Since then, many of our global competitors have taken steps to simplify their tax codes and lower their marginal tax rates.
The combined U.S. corporate tax rate of 39 percent (which includes average state and local corporate taxes) is significantly higher than the OECD average of 25 percent.
As U.S. legislators move forward with comprehensive tax reform, they should consider the positive effects that lowering the corporate tax rate and simplifying the tax system could have on US’ competitiveness abroad and economic health at home.
See the full rankings here: http://tax.foundation/2lzGHS2

Spain: Regional Tax Competitiveness Index
In October of 2017, the Spanish Taxpayers Union (UC) launched the first edition of its Regional Tax Competitiveness Index. This report inspired by the Tax Foundation’s State Business Tax Climate Index measures the country’s seventeen regional fiscal systems by analyzing 64 indicators and produces a ranking to show how each of them performs in comparison with the rest.
The main outcome in policy making has been acknowledged in the Basque province of Guipuzcoa, where this report has been influential on the provincial president who reintroduced measures to limit impact of the provincial Wealth Tax. Similarly, the president of Extremadura had to reduce the inheritance tax as the Index revealed that neighboring regions had much lower rates negatively impacting Extremadura’s tax competitiveness.   Finally, other politicians, in areas ranging from the Canary Islands to Navarre, have also used the Index in their media statements, regional parliament speeches or in debates with their opponents.
The report can be downloaded in Spanish here.

UK: Institute of Economic Affairs on Oxfam

IEA‘s Director of Research Jamie Whyte, discusses Oxfam’s inequality report in this article for The Times and in this podcast.

Also, Mark Littlewood, Director General at IEA, comments on Oxfam’s bizarre poverty metrics:“According to Oxfam, if you are a recent graduate from Harvard Law School with $200,000 worth of debt, you are one of the most impoverished people on the planet – even if you’re about to become a corporate lawyer on Wall Street.”
Furthermore, the IEA also published this press release to call out Oxfam on its obsession with the rich rather than being concerned with the poor. “It should stick to its remit of poverty relief rather than obsessing over the wealthy.”

Lithuania’s Respect for Taxpayers Day

Respect for Taxpayers Day has become an official commemorative day in Lithuania to be celebrated on the 11th of May. The recently adopted law is the result of a petition submitted by the Lithuanian Free Market Institute.
“Taxes form the basis of public finance. The Respect for Taxpayers Day will honor all taxpayers who contribute to the well-being of our society,” said Žilvinas Šilėnas, President of the Lithuanian Free Market Institute.
An average salary earner in Lithuania pays more in taxes than he spends on food, housing and clothing combined. Citizens pay for the functioning of the state and public services. Not surprisingly, taxation is a top concern for Lithuanian citizens. According to Eurobarometer, one-fifth of Lithuanians consider taxes as a major issue.
“Lithuanians file their annual tax returns in May, and public debates about taxes heighten then. The Respect for Taxpayers Day will increase the understanding of the tax system and awareness of how taxes are spent,” Žilvinas Šilėnas says.

Save the Date!
Upcoming Atlas Network Events: 

Asia Liberty Forum 2018
February 10-11
Jakarta, Indonesia

Europe Liberty Forum 2018
May 29-30
Copenhagen, Denmark

Latin America Liberty Forum 2018
June 13-14
Santiago, Chile

Africa Liberty Forum 2018
August 23-24
Lagos, Nigeria

2018 Member Fees Now Due
Invoices for 2018 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, newsletter and part time secretary general are all dependent on membership dues, so thank-you in advance for your ongoing support!  We will provide a formal letter of membership embossed with an official WTA seal as per the request of some Member organizations. Any inquiries concerning membership fees should be directed to Melanie Harvie at melanie.harvie@worldtaxpayers.org.

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 Secretary General Cristina Berechet to feed good content into this newsletter and our network at large.
Keep up the fight!

Troy Lanigan
Chair, World Taxpayers Associations
President, Canadian Taxpayers Federation
E-mail | troy.lanigan@worldtaxpayers.org
Skype | troy_lanigan