Michael Schaus

You know the following Bloomberg article is going to be a fair, honest account of serious international finance law when it begins “many Swiss bankers have had an easy job taking in often untaxed money from wealthy customers from around the world.” Wow. The rest of this should be fun. While it might seem like the rest of the article is a tirade against tax havens, tax avoidance, and international revenue collection, it actually goes much further.

Switzerland’s first female Finance Minister, Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf, is on a quest to convince the Swiss Parliament that secrecy in banking is no less than the bane of all humanity. (Or something along those lines.) Widmer-Schlumpf, according to Bloomberg, is “changing the way Switzerland’s 300 banks are doing business.” But don’t worry; it wasn’t a complete fluff piece. Only once in the article did they mention the 57 year old finance minister is a vegetarian, has three children, and enjoys long hikes in the mountains. (I’m not kidding.)

At issue are the nation’s nearly eighty year old bank secrecy laws that prohibit government agencies (foreign or domestic) from gaining much, if any, information about depositors. The US has been engaged in a number of disputes with Swiss Banking authorities regarding depositors that may (or may not) be illegally sheltering money in Swiss banks. Of course, additional issues are also at play. This week the G-8 meetings are expected to focus heavily on “international tax avoidance” and international taxation efforts.

Tax havens, far from being limited, should be promoted. Just as companies must competitively set prices to attract customers to their brand’s value, countries should be setting tax policy in accordance with their value of government. When French authorities decided to tax the wealthy at 75 percent, a mass exodus of wealth from the country was only expected. And rather than set taxes at a tolerable level – while balancing government services to the level of possible revenue – nations seem far more interested in simply making tax avoidance more burdensome.

Of course the George Soros, and the Gerard Depardieus of the world will always be able to move around their finances to avoid some level of taxation. With enough money, margins of profit can always be achieved. Such international tax cooperation is nothing more than a coordinated chase for more revenue between overspending countries run by tax happy politicians.


Michael Schaus

Michael Schaus is the Associate Editor for Townhall Finance, and the Executive Producer for Ransom Notes Radio. He is a former talk show host and political activist. Having worked in fields ranging from construction to financial investment, his perspectives and world views are forged with a deep understanding of what it means to be an American.
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