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Lunch Beat

Bramwell's Lunch Beat: SCOTUS Disses PwC, US Tax Haven, Board Diversity

Jan 27th 2016
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US top court declines to review PricewaterhouseCoopers case
PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) may face increased pressure to settle a decade-old lawsuit with a class of employees who took lump-sum retirement payments between 2000 and 2006, after coming up short on Monday in its bid for US Supreme Court review, wrote Robert Iafolla of Reuters. The court left in place a US appeals court ruling that found that the firm violated federal benefits law by setting terms for when workers could fully vest in pension plans that were unrelated to retirement age. PwC has been accused of depriving certain workers of “whipsaw payments,” which guarantee that participants who take lump-sum payments once they retire receive the full value of their accounts. The workers suing PwC had more than five years of service and say they were short-changed because they received lump-sum payments of only the cash balance of their retirement accounts without the additional amount from proper actuarial calculations.

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The world's favorite new tax haven is the United States
After years of lambasting other countries for helping rich Americans hide their money offshore, the United States is emerging as a leading tax and secrecy haven for rich foreigners, wrote Jesse Drucker of Bloomberg. Some are calling the United States the new Switzerland. By resisting new global disclosure standards, the United States is creating a hot new market, becoming the go-to place to stash foreign wealth. Everyone from London lawyers to Swiss trust companies is getting in on the act, helping the world's rich move accounts from places like the Bahamas and the British Virgin Islands to Nevada, Wyoming, and South Dakota. “How ironic – no, how perverse – that the USA, which has been so sanctimonious in its condemnation of Swiss banks, has become the banking secrecy jurisdiction du jour,” wrote Peter Cotorceanu, a lawyer at Anaford AG, a Zurich law firm, in a recent legal journal.

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Analysis: Clinton tax plan would raise $498 billion but hinder GDP growth
Hillary Clinton's proposed tax increases would raise $498 billion for the government over the next decade, after including the effects of capital-gains tax hikes that would actually decrease federal revenue, according to an analysis released by the Tax Foundation, wrote Richard Rubin of the Wall Street Journal. But the Democratic presidential candidate's plan would also make gross domestic product 1 percent lower than it would be otherwise, over the long run, and only raise $191 billion after accounting for those economic changes. Clinton has proposed higher capital-gains tax rates on investments held between one and six years, a “Buffett Rule” that would impose a minimum 30 percent tax rate on high-income households, limits on deductions, higher estate taxes, and a 4 percent surcharge on people who earn more than $5 million a year.

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SEC chief: Board diversity is a priority for agency in 2016
Andrew Ackerman of the Wall Street Journal wrote that US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman Mary Jo White outlined on Tuesday a busy agenda for what is likely to be her final full year at the helm of the SEC, with a range of initiatives focusing on boardroom diversity and executive compensation. One priority is possibly requiring companies to provide more details about the diversity of their directors. White said she has instructed staff to review existing company disclosures and give her recommendations on whether the agency should require companies to provide more specific information about the racial or gender composition of their boards. Separately, White said she aims to complete a suite of executive compensation rules the agency proposed last year, including requirements that companies claw back, or revoke, some of their top officials' incentive pay if they have to restate the financial results.

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Quick Links:

  • How to tease the most out of this tax season (Washington Post)
  • Sanders breaks with campaign tradition in calling for tax hikes (CNN)
  • Clinton, Sanders would bypass Congress to tax the rich – a bit (Bloomberg)
  • Rob Lowe sounds off on Bernie Sanders' tax plan (Huffington Post)
  • Presidential candidates Clinton, Sanders bash Johnson Controls over inversion (Milwaukee Business Journal)
  • Johnson Controls attempts a snow job (Tax Justice Blog)
  • Tyco, tax inversions, income shifting, and lost revenue (TaxVox)
  • Tax cuts to cut carbon, an idea whose time is yet to come (American Spectator)
  • Most people lose when pols pick winners and losers (Tax Analysts)
  • The dissonance of European tax harmonization (Tax Analysts)
  • Facebook resists UK attempts to claim back-tax (Financial Times)

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