Tax Havens 101

There has been a lot of interest in Wikileaks and the notorious and brave individuals who have risked it all to bring some of the secrecy of international politics out into the light, but have you heard of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists? Here is their website:  take a look and keep an open mind … ICIJ (Secrecy for Sale: Inside the Global Offshore Money Maze).

I ran into the ICIJ when an article online caught my eye and suggested that secret offshore tax havens and questionably legal tactics to avoid taxes might have been exposed by the ICIJ.

Here is the article from Slate:

The Secret World of Tax Havens Just Got a Whole Lot Less Secret
By Abby Ohlheiser | Posted Thursday, April 4, 2013, at 4:02 PM

Anyone who’s looking for an in-depth and more than a little disturbing look into how the rich and powerful use offshore tax havens need look no further than a new report from the Center for Public Integrity’s International Consortium of Investigative Journalists out today. (That’s a long-name, but the nonpartisan group earned every letter for all the work they poured into the project over the last 15 months.)

The study—which will be updated with additional findings as reporters continue to dig in—centers around a trove of 2.5 million leaked financial documents from around the world. To put that in perspective, the leak is 160 times larger than Wikileaks’ State Department database that kept reporters busy for weeks. The offshore effort took one the biggest collaborations in journalism history to sort through: more than 80 journalists from more than 40 countries worked together for more than a year to extract meaning from the documents.

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What is buried in Mitt’s backyard?

This is from AP but I grabbed it from the Washington Post:

Mystery Bermuda-based company and other undisclosed Romney assets hint at larger wealth

WASHINGTON — For nearly 15 years, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s financial portfolio has included an offshore company that remained invisible to voters as his political star rose.

Based in Bermuda, Sankaty High Yield Asset Investors Ltd. was not listed on any of Romney’s state or federal financial reports. The company is among several Romney holdings that have not been fully disclosed, including one that recently posted a $1.9 million earning — suggesting he could be wealthier than the nearly $250 million estimated by his campaign.

The omissions were permitted by state and federal authorities overseeing Romney’s ethics filings, and he has never been cited for failing to disclose information about his money. But Romney’s limited disclosures deprive the public of an accurate depiction of his wealth and a clear understanding of how his assets are handled and taxed, according to experts in private equity, tax and campaign finance law.

Sankaty was transferred to a trust owned by Romney’s wife, Ann, one day before he was sworn in as Massachusetts governor in 2003, according to Bermuda records obtained by The Associated Press. The Romneys’ ownership of the offshore firm did not appear on any state or federal financial reports during Romney’s two presidential campaigns. Only the Romneys’ 2010 tax records, released under political pressure earlier this year, confirmed their continuing control of the company.

The mystery surrounding Sankaty reinforces Romney’s history of keeping a tight rein on his public dealings, already documented by his use of private email and computer purges as Massachusetts governor and his refusal to disclose his top fundraisers. The Bermuda company had almost no assets, according to Romney’s 2010 tax returns. But such partnership stakes could still provide significant income for years to come, said tax experts, who added that the lack of disclosure makes it impossible to know for certain.

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