WTA Chairman’s Update #5: April – June 2020

Section: Letter from the Chairman / WTA Blog
15 May 2020


Dear WTA members, observers and friends:
I hope you and your families are all safe and well in these strange times.

I’d like to open by encouraging everyone to 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.
I would especially encourage you to share tips on continuing your campaign during this crisis – better use of webinars, new fundraising ideas etc. I have joined lots of interesting online events and my organisation in London is making use of tech to appear on the media, too. What else has your organisation done during lockdown?

Next WTA events:

Taxpayers Regional Forum in Kyiv Ukraine May 16, 2020
Due to COVID-19 pandemic the WTA Taxpayers Regional Forum in Kyiv, Ukraine, has been postponed. The Forum will be rescheduled. No date has been set.
More information will soon be available on our website.

Taxpayers Regional Forum in Accra Ghana on August 22, 2020. TO BE CONFIRMED
The first WTA-sponsored Regional Taxpayers Forum of 2020 will take place in Accra, Ghana, August 22nd.
In August 2020 World Taxpayers Associations, along with the Atlas Network and IMANI Center for Policy and Education, is delighted to host its first event on the African continent.
The WTA Regional Taxpayers Forum will take place immediately after the Atlas Network’s 2020 Africa Liberty Forum in Accra on August 20-21.
Check WTA’s website and our Facebook group.

As COVID-19 continues to spread around the world, we are monitoring the latest developments. We’ll keep you updated through WTA’s website and Facebook.

The next WTA World Conference will be hosted by Contribuables Associes, the French taxpayer association, in Paris in June of 2021.

Member News:

Argentine Taxpayers Association (Asociacion Argentina de Contribuyentes) is fighting against a new wealth tax proposed by the government. There is already a personal asset tax in place – this new tax will simply be a case of double taxation. The Taxpayers Association not only rejects this proposal but is pushing for tax cuts and tax payment delays, like those approved in Italy or France.
Read more here.

AUSTRALIA: The 8th Annual Friedman Conference
The Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance & Australian Libertarian Society, with the support of over a dozen international pro-liberty partners, including the WTA, are delighted to invite you to a world first: a digital 24-hour conference bringing together over 100 speakers & thousands and activists for the biggest virtual liberty marathon the world has ever seen!
The 8th Annual Friedman Conference will be held over 24 hours, with speakers and topics tailored to participants in each time zone.
Speakers and ticket details will be released soon. Sign up at www.alsfc.com.au for further information.

CANADA:  VICTORY! No money for Harry and Meghan
Canadian taxpayers will NOT be footing the bills for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle, while they live in Canada. Canadians are off the hook.
While the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) wishes them well and welcomes them to live in Canada, hardworking taxpayers shouldn’t be paying for the lifestyle choices of a rich and famous couple.
More than 80,000 people signed CTF’s petition telling Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to not pay for Harry and Meghan’s costs with taxpayers’ money. CTF delivered the petition on Parliament Hill and media from around the world took notice. From the United Kingdom to Japan and from the U.S. to Australia, the CTF told the press that Canadians shouldn’t be paying these bills.

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation has also asked members of Parliament to donate their pay rises to charity. While Canadians in the private sector are hurting, members of Parliament got a $3,700 raise this April. Now they make $182,600. Since launching our petition, over 25,000 taxpayers have signed it.
To date, over 200 MPs have confirmed they’re doing the right thing. But that’s not enough.
Around the world, political leaders are taking pay cuts. In New Zealand, the Prime Minister and her cabinet cut their paycheques by 20 percent. In Japan, all lawmakers followed suit. In India, lawmakers went even further, cutting their salaries by 30 percent. Our elected officials need to be held to the same standard – if only to show understanding to the devastation happening in the private sector, which, after all, pays for the public sector.

EUROPE: Overcoming the Corona Crisis
The European Taxpayers Association (TAE) warns strongly against debt communisation, corona bonds, additional taxes as well as tax harmonisation (minimum tax rates), mandatory alignment of all social security systems, as well as against throwing overboard any and all inhibitions regarding the indebtedness of some EU member states.
The paper by TAE provides suggestions for discussion on how to manage the corona crisis and set a benchmark to cope with future pandemics.
Download TAE Paper

GERMANY: Victory for taxpayers!
The German Taxpayers Association won a major victory by cutting VAT for food and services related to the gastronomic industry from 19% to 7% – a huge reduction. The Taxpayers Association is working on other tax cuts too. They’ve also updated their website so that their members can get up-to-date information on how to cope with the corona crisis.

NEW ZEALAND: Major Victory in Campaign for Public Sector Pay Cuts
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced a six-month 20% pay cut for all central government CEOs and Ministers. Just like the wins Taxpayers’ Union in New Zealand clocked up with councils committing to freezing rates across the country, this victory is thanks solely to people power and the efforts of their supporters and volunteers.
The Prime Minister basically recited their campaign reasoning back to them! She told the media that the measures are being taken to “acknowledge New Zealanders who are reliant on wage subsidies, are taking pay cuts, and are losing their jobs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
This also sends a strong message to local governments and others whose job security is assured, and wages paid by taxpayers (such as council CEOs and judges) that they too need to share the burden of the economic effects of COVID-19.
Check here the Public Sector CEO Rich List, which highlighted just how inflated the salaries of public sector bosses are.

PERU: Solidarity Tax
The Peruvian Taxpayers Association (Asociación de Contribuyentes del Perú) organized a webinar to discuss the solidarity tax the government wants to enforce. A few days ago, the president Martin Vizcarra announced that a “solidarity tax” would be implemented for high earners and businesses. Among the speakers was Agustín Iturralde, Executive Director of the Center for Development Studies, who explained the strategies that Uruguayan government is applying to deal with Covid-19 pandemic, Marcel Ramirez La Torre, Director of the Taxpayers Association and Professor at the School of Public Management of Pacific University and Jörg Dehnert, Director of the FNF for Andine Countries.
You can watch the webinar “Solidarity tax, debt or efficiency” here.

USA: Sign up to Support Good Science and Data
The  Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) needs your help to support the use of sound science and data to drive policymaking.
For a more informed, rigorous policy-making process, TPA proposes the following principles:
• The safety evaluation of any substance or product must take into account proof of harm, not merely the potential for harm;
• All decisions made must be based on the assessment of all available science and empirical safety data and not simply theory or modeling;
• The onus must be on regulators to prove that a product is harmful, not on a company or industry to prove that a product is harmless; and
• If a product is shown to cause some degree of harm, a cost-benefit analysis must be undertaken prior to any regulatory action, including impacts on future innovation.
You can read the statement on  Principles on Regulation, Innovation, and the Precautionary Principle here. In order to sign this petition, respond by sending your name, title, and organization to info@igowatch.org.

SWEDEN: The Waste Ombudsman
In a new book, Johan Gustafsson collects for the Swedish Taxpayers’ Association some of the worst examples of waste with taxpayers’ money.  The project started in 2010 disclosing the extensive waste of the taxpayers’ money and showing the potential that exists to lower the internationally high Swedish taxes.
You can get a copy of “The waste of your tax money – 258 examples you don’t want to pay for” here.

UNITED KINGDOM: Taxpayer victory! Council boss resigns after damning report
Karen Whelan, chief executive at Surrey Heath Borough Council made it into this year’s Town Hall Rich List published by the TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA) with remuneration of £197,000. Part of this pay package included a colossal and unwarranted pay rise of £46,000 which came to light last summer. Appearing on local television and radio, the TPA called for an investigation – the subsequent report has recently been released to the public.
Ms Whelan resigned a week ahead of publication and it’s obvious why she did. The report found that payments made to her were “unlawful” and “unprecedented”. Although heavily redacted, the report details that in addition to her bumper pay rise, she billed the taxpayer for stays at luxury 5-star hotels in Manchester and London to the tune of more than £1,000.
The report and Ms Whelan’s resignation is a significant victory for taxpayers. Accountability in local government is vital and TPA hopes other councils will take heed from these findings. The TPA is not going to stand for such a disgraceful use of public money. Any public servant who fails to meet the high standards expected of them should be given their marching orders.

WORLDWIDE:  Tracker: COVID-19 Relief Plans Around the World
The Tax Foundation released a worldwide tracker to monitor country-by-country responses to COVID-19, with recent updates in Denmark, Italy, and Spain, among others. What changes have countries enacted and what can they learn from each other? See how your country’s response compares here.

WORLDWIDE: International Coalition Urges WHO Accountability
IGOWatch , a coalition of 27 organizations from 16 countries representing hundreds of millions of taxpayers and consumers worldwide signed an international coalition letter. The letter urged world leaders to suspend funding of the failed World Health Organization (WHO) and follow the lead of the United States in holding an immediate investigation into the chronic mismanagement of the COVID-19 response and promotion of misinformation spread by the Chinese Communist Party.
You can read a copy of the coalition letter together with the press release here.

WORLDWIDE: 93 Organizations along with the Property Rights Alliance Celebrate World IP Day
In celebration of World Intellectual Property Day, an international coalition of 93 organizations from 49 countries along with Property Rights Alliance has launched an open letter addressed to the World Intellectual Property Organization’s Director General Dr. Francis Gurry, highlighting the benefits of protecting intellectual property.
As humanity confronts the COVID-19 pandemic, we turn to IP-driven innovations for the most effective solutions. The more IP rights are protected the more the global community can benefit from the collective wisdom, ingenuity, and creativity of the world’s people. Slowly, this is happening. Property Rights Alliance has produced the International Property Rights Index since 2007 measuring intellectual property rights, physical property rights, and the legal and political institutions responsible for enforcing them. The world has seen an increase of IP Rights Protection of 4.5 percent over the last thirteen years. The ultimate consequence of this progress is, of course, greater prosperity for all.
You can read the coalition letter here and watch the 2020 IP Day Webinar here.


AUSTRIA: Europe after the Coronavirus: A Road Map to Economic Recovery
The Austrian Economic Center in collaboration with the Tax Foundation elaborated a report that evaluates how governments in Europe should be designing policies to minimize the economic shock while the health crisis continues, and then shift to policies that will help economies recover and return to a sustainable fiscal footing in the context of growth.
Read the report here.

Upcoming Atlas Network Events:

Africa Liberty Forum 2020
August 20-21
Accra, Ghana

Liberty Forum and Freedom Dinner 2020
November 11-12
New York City, United States

Keep up the fight!
John O’Connell
Chairman and President, World Taxpayers Associations
Chief Executive, TaxPayers’ Alliance
E-mail | john.oconnell@worldtaxpayers.org