Panama Papers tax haul tops $143 million
- A Tax Office investigation sparked by one of the biggest leaks of confidential financial information has led to more than $140 million in new liabilities, with a small number of criminal investigations continuing.
- About 1400 Australians were named in the Panama Papers leak in April 2015, which included 11.5 million files from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca.
- A leak of 11.5 million files from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca sparked the global investigation.
- The leak, and a massive investigation by media groups including The Australian Financial Review led by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, revealed the inside workings of a shadowy financial system created to help wealthy and powerful people shift capital outside the view of governments and tax agencies.
- The ATO expects major data leaks to become more frequent in the future, reflecting the globally connected economy and concerns about financial transparency and tax avoidance by major corporations and wealthy individuals.
Don't rely on higher house prices for growth, economists warn
- Economists warned that policy makers cannot simply rely on debt-fuelled house price appreciation to grow the economy after the COVID-19 recession and that governments must also embark on tax reform to sustain the recovery.
- Inflating the price of houses and other assets such as shares would increase household wealth, improve household cash flow, lift consumer spending and stimulate business investment, the bank's economists noted in an internal briefing note dated November 23.
- Nicholas Gruen, Lateral Economics chief executive and a former adviser to Labor treasurer John Dawkins, said the RBA was "pushing on a string" with near-zero interest rates and the fiscal policy of governments had rightly picked up some of the slack during the COVID-19 crisis.
- RBA governor Philip Lowe has repeatedly urged the federal and state governments to embark on productivity-boosting reforms to lift the economy's growth potential.
Trickle-down policy settings aren't working
- The effects of blunt monetary policy have created a divide between the have and have-nots, and the populist agitation could lead to more binary policy alternatives, and unstable investment conditions.
- Thirteen years ago, lawmakers and central bankers responded to a financial crisis that became an economic crisis by unleashing significant taxpayer-funded support and slashing of interest rates.
- Asset price inflation will continue to be linked to central bank activity, unless the consumer kicks in and plays a more significant role.
- With that lesson learned, it explains why central banks have emphatically responded to threats to asset prices, over the past decade, by injecting liquidity into the financial system.
- Thus, central banks have been the major avenue to provide stimulus, by cutting borrowing costs and adding incentives for capital to seek returns in assets and projects, via quantitative easing.
Manhattan DA expands criminal investigation into Trump Organization finances to include family compound in Westchester County
- Prosecutors sent grand jury subpoenas within the past two months to town officials seeking documents and communications that officials had with the Trump Organization relating to development plans it considered for the sprawling family property.
- The Trump Organization has also been subpoenaed for information related to the property and tax deductions it took after donating a conservation easement to a public trust, according to people familiar with the investigation.
- The Seven Springs property is also part of a civil investigation conducted by the New York attorney general's office, which has said it is looking into whether the Trump Organization "improperly inflated" the value of the Seven Springs estate.
- They also interviewed Michael Cohen, the President's former personal attorney, who told lawmakers that Trump inflated or deflated the value of his assets when seeking loans from lenders, insurance or to obtain favorable tax treatment.
IRS: Tax filing season will start February 12
- The IRS on Friday said it would begin accepting federal tax returns on February 12.
- Normally, tax filing season begins in the second half of January.
- The IRS notes, however, that people working with tax software companies, including IRS Free File partners, may prepare their returns now and they will be transmitted to the IRS starting February 12.
- More people than ever may wish to file as soon as they can if they're expecting a big refund or believe they qualify but have not yet received the two stimulus payments made since last spring -- $1,200 initially, then $600.
- Refundable credits reduce your tax liability dollar-for-dollar.
- If a credit exceeds your tax liability, the rest will be sent to you as a refund.
Data Center Giant Digital Realty Moving HQ from California to Texas
- Following in the footsteps of Oracle and Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Digital Realty Trust, the world’s second-largest data center provider, is moving its headquarters from California to Texas.
- They are moving because it’s easier to hire and keep employees in the Lone Star State, which offers relatively low cost of living and doesn’t collect an individual income tax.
- For a company like Digital, it’s also important that the state offers abundant opportunities for renewable energy development and an energy market that’s deregulated enough to take advantage of those opportunities relatively easily.
- The company expects its recent investments in wind and solar energy generation in Texas to supply 70 percent of its data center load in the state, once the projects come online sometime by the midpoint of this year.
US debt surged by $7 trillion under Trump. It will go much higher under Biden
- Armed with a slim majority in the US Senate, President-elect Joe Biden is expected to make the case Thursday for a $2 trillion fiscal package to repair and rebuild the economy.
- Others argue the Biden team should wait a few months to assess the impact of last month's $900 billion package, which provided more small business loans and prevented unemployment benefits from expiring.
- Given that Democrats now control the US Senate, MacGuineas said the budget deficit is likely to go even higher than previously estimated.
- The Biden administration may have a difficult time convincing lawmakers to support $2,000 stimulus checks -- a popular idea advocated by both Trump and Senator Bernie Sanders.
- Brusuelas said the next round of stimulus checks should be limited to unemployed Americans and those who can document income loss.
Trump's actions in last days as President increase his legal jeopardy
- Over five days last week -- beginning with a phone call to the Georgia Secretary of State directing him to "find" votes to overturn the election to encouraging the pro-Trump crowd to "show strength" in their march to the Capitol -- lawyers say the President has put himself under the microscope of state and federal prosecutors.
- The new possible criminal exposure comes on top of ongoing New York state investigations into the President's finances and multiple defamation lawsuits related to Trump denying sexual assault accusations by women.
- The new exposure Trump faces as he leaves office comes as the President is already part of a wide-ranging criminal investigation by the Manhattan District Attorneys' office, which is looking into a range of potential state crimes.
- Manhattan prosecutors have been interviewing individuals and examining evidence, but their investigation has been slowed as they wait for the Supreme Court to rule on a subpoena issued 16 months ago to Trump's accountant for the President's personal and business tax records.
A nurse who works with Covid patients just won a $1 million lottery jackpot
- One North Carolina nurse now has the pocket change to treat herself to at least some of them.
- Terri Watkins works in the Covid unit at a long term facility in Durham.
- And she just won a $1 million jackpot, the North Carolina Education Lottery said this week.
- It's a rough time to be a Covid unit nurse as the pandemic rages uncontrollably.
- Many are working grueling hours, and isolating themselves away from their families.
- So, when the lottery called her with the news, she had a hard time believing her good fortune.
- Given the option to take the $1 million prize as 20 annual payments of $50,000 or a lump sum of $600,000, Watkins chose the latter.
- Watkins said she would love a new home -- but she'll take it "slow and easy" to figure out what to do with the money.