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Global tax shakeup would force tech firms to pay more | Politics



Big internet companies would be forced to pay more tax to countries where they sell products and services under proposals for a global shakeup of taxation rules to limit firms shifting profits to low-tax locations around the world.

In an attempt to tackle challenges for countries from the rise of firms such as Facebook, Amazon and Google, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) launched plans to upgrade the international tax system for the 21st century.

It said the changes would force large and highly profitable multinational firms, including digital companies, to pay tax wherever they have a significant consumer-facing activity and generate profits.

The Paris-based membership organisation, which represents the wealthiest countries, said existing tax rules dated back to the 1920s and were no longer sufficient to ensure fair allocation of taxing rights in an increasingly globalised world.

Ángel Gurría, the secretary general of the OECD, said: “This plan brings together common elements of existing competing proposals, involving over 130 countries, with input from governments, business, civil society, academia and the general public. It brings us closer to our ultimate goal: ensuring all multinational enterprises pay their fair share.

“Failure to reach agreement by 2020 would greatly increase the risk that countries will act unilaterally, with negative consequences on an already fragile global economy. We must not allow that to happen.”

The changes come as part of the OECD’s Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (Beps) work, which attempts to counter large companies’ tax planning strategies that are used to exploit gaps in tax rules to avoid paying. The OECD estimates as much as $240bn (£200bn) in revenue is lost for exchequers around the world, which could be used to fund key government projects, welfare benefits and public services.

Under the new plans, which the OECD launched for consultation on Wednesday, some profits and tax rights would be reallocated to countries where companies have their markets.

The rules, designed to ensure firms undertaking significant business in places where they do not have a physical presence are taxed in them, apportion where tax should be paid, and what amount of profit they should be taxed on.

Several European politicians welcomed the proposals. Markus Ferber, a German conservative MEP on the EU parliament’s economic and monetary affairs committee, said: “It is high time to adapt the corporate tax rules for the digital age. The OECD standards finally move away from the antiquated idea of physical presence.”

However, the plans were branded as weak and overly complex by anti-poverty campaigners who said they would fail to “deliver meaningful progress against corporate tax abuse”.

The Tax Justice Network said the plans would do “little or nothing” for developing countries. Alex Cobham, the charity’s chief executive said the OECD had rejected clear definitions of businesses that will be affected and the taxable profits caught by the new rules.

Cobham said: “To add uncertainty, while at the same time leaving the widely derided arm’s length principle largely in place, is a feat of complex engineering that would only serve to further undermine the credibility of international tax rules.”

Susana Ruiz, tax campaign lead at Oxfam, said: “Unfortunately, particularly for developing governments and their citizens, what the OECD has come up with today is very disappointing.

“Under this new proposal, companies’ profits and their ability to shift them offshore will barely be affected and consequently developing countries will only see a very small increase in their corporate tax revenues.”

Tax Justice Network has previously said the OECD proposals could end up shrinking the tax paid in poorer countries, worsening levels of global inequality.

While many poorer countries lose out most through tax abuses, the changes could cause their tax bases to shrink by 3%, researchers said. They said about 80% of taxes clawed back are likely to be redistributed in high-income countries.



Barcelona mayor pleads for violence in Catalonia to stop




The mayor of riot-stricken Barcelona pleaded Saturday for calm after violent protests by Catalan separatists rocked Spain’s second largest city for a fifth consecutive night.

“This cannot continue. Barcelona does not deserve it,” Mayor Ada Colau told reporters, adding that Friday’s violence was the worst so far.

Protesters clashed with police again later on Saturday despite efforts by some citizens to mediate by gathering between the two sides. There was also a skirmish between separatist supporters and police in a square in Spain’s capital, Madrid. Authorities are bracing for more protests in the coming days.

Radical separatists have fought with police every night in Barcelona and other Catalan cities following huge peaceful protests by people angered by Monday’s Supreme Court verdict that sentenced nine separatist leaders to prison for their roles in a failed 2017 secession attempt.

Pro-independence supporters scuffle with rioters trying to set up barricades on the street near a pro-independence demonstration in Barcelona on Saturday. (Emilio Morenatti/Associated Press)

More than 500,000 people gathered in downtown Barcelona on Friday in a massive show of support for the secession movement that is backed by roughly half of the wealthy northeastern region’s 5.5 million voters.

Before night fell, several hundred masked youths had surrounded the headquarters of the National Police and started a street battle that raged into the night in Barcelona, a popular tourist destination.

‘It has been quite scary,’ Torontonian says

“The images of organized violence during the night in Barcelona have overshadowed the half a million people who demonstrated in a peaceful and civic manner to show they rejected the verdict,” said Catalan interior chief Miquel Buch, who oversees the regional police.

Rioters have burned hundreds of trash bins and hurled gasoline bombs, chunks of pavement, acid, and firecrackers, among other objects, at police. They have used nails to puncture the tires of police vans and fireworks to hit one police helicopter, without doing it serious damage.

Outnumbered officers in riot gear from both Catalonia’s regional police and Spain’s national police have used batons, rubber and foam bullets, tear gas and water cannon to battle back.

Residents and tourists have run for cover.

Catalan pro-independence demonstrators pack the street in Barcelona. (Manu Fernandez/Associated Press)

“It has been quite scary,” said Deepa Khumar, a doctor from Toronto visiting for a medical conference. “This place, it looks like a war zone.”

500 injured this week

Authorities say over 500 people have been hurt this week, including protesters and police. Eighteen people remained hospitalized, at least one in very serious condition. Police have made over 150 arrests.

Spanish Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska said that 101 police officers were injured on Friday alone and that 264 police vehicles have been severely damaged in the week’s riots.

Refuse workers clean up following a night of rioting on Saturday in Barcelona. (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

A small group of supporters of Spanish unity approached the police headquarters that has been the focus of separatists’ rage to give officers flowers and gifts on Saturday.

“We feel so anguished,” said 54-year-old economist Maria Jesus Cortes. “There used to be a nice atmosphere here in Barcelona. Everybody with their own ideas, and that was it. We used to live in peace.”

Interior minister wants explicit condemnation of violence

Minister Grande-Marlaska asked Catalonia’s regional president to explicitly condemn the escalating violence and express his support for law enforcement officials.

“We have gone five days in which there has not been a firm condemnation of violence” by Catalan leader Quim Torra, Grande-Marlaska said.

Torra has called on protesters to respect the non-violent tenets of the separatist movement that has surged over the past decade.

But on Saturday Torra and his vice-president, Pere Aragones, used a televised address mostly to criticize the Supreme Court verdict. Aragones also insinuated that the national police, which are controlled by Madrid, had acted too aggressively with protesters.

Catalan leader demands meeting with PM

Torra demanded to meet Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez to push his agenda for secession and freedom for the prisoners.

“We ask once again the acting Spanish PM to set the date and time to sit with us at a negotiating table,” Torra said. “Today this is more necessary than ever before.”

The prime minister’s office responded that “the government of Spain has always been in favour of dialogue, but within the confines of the law.”


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Funeral for Atatiana Jefferson canceled after family dispute




A funeral scheduled Saturday for Atatiana Jefferson, who was fatally shot in her home by a police officer in Fort Worth, Texas, was canceled because of a dispute between family members.

The shooting of Jefferson, 28, on Oct. 12 reignited a long-running debate about police use-of-force tactics, especially in the black community. Jefferson, who was black, was shot through a bedroom window by a white officer responding to a late-night report of an open door at the home.

NBC Dallas-Fort Worth reported that a local court granted her father, Marquis A. Jefferson, a temporary restraining order halting the funeral. He had argued that he was excluded by other family members from planning the funeral, and he wanted to participate.

Atatiana Jefferson.Family Photo

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The Potter’s House of Dallas, which was to host the service, announced the cancellation Saturday morning.

Marquis Jefferson also said he can afford to pay for his daughter’s funeral, and that supporters had unnecessarily set up a GoFundMe account seeking cash for the event.

Lee Merritt, an attorney for Atatiana Jefferson’s mother, Yolanda Carr, told the Dallas Morning News that former Dallas Mavericks player Harrison Barnes, his wife, Brittany Barnes, and Philadelphia Eagles player Malik Jackson would pay for the funeral.

Family members were due back in court Monday. Merritt said he believed a funeral would be held shortly thereafter, NBC Dallas-Fort Worth reported.

Merritt tweeted Saturday that Carr had “hired me to seek justice for her daughter.”

“She has been very ill & unable to make media appearances,” he said of Carr. “We worked hard all week to get her prepared to attend her daughter’s funeral. This has been extremely hard on her.”

Atatiana Jefferson was playing video games with her 8-year-old nephew when she heard noises outside, pulled a handgun from her purse, and pointed it toward the window before she was shot.

Officer Aaron Dean did not appear to immediately make his presence known or knock on her front door before he headed around the side of the house. A neighbor had called a non-emergency line to report an open front door there.

Dean later resigned and was arrested Monday on suspicion of murder. The Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office is seeking an indictment of murder against Dean by a grand jury.

Jay Varela contributed.


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Gideon's Army meets on October 19th, 2019 to FREE AMERICAN POLITICAL PRISONERS!



Gideon’s Army meets on October 19th, 2019 to FREE AMERICAN POLITICAL PRISONERS!


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