Tuesday, November 25, 2008

US Clamps down on the Cayman Islands

The IRS in Houston briefs me to advise them on what could be done to stop money laundering in the Cayman Islands. This anti-money laundering battle to halt organized crime today is the legacy of Al Capone.

By the late seventies, it had become apparent to the US government that they were losing the war against crime not just organized crime, but disorganized crime.Petty gangsters and white collar criminals were experiencing relatively little difficultyin finding safe havens for their lucre. From the lowest level of protection money,extorted from widows out of their social security payments, to the most profitable levels of drug-dealing, government corruption, terrorism, and corporate fraud, the proceeds of crime were finding a welcome home in the ordinary banking system. First the money was inserted through deposits in accommodating or inattentive bank branches; then it was scrambled though various layers of seemingly innocent transactions, like futures trading or real estate; and finally the illegal funds were housed in investments or trusts, frequently offshore. The cover-up of much of the illegal transactions and earnings of the large corporations would have been impossible without the complicity of the major financial institutions and audit firms.

Tax fraud was becoming just as big a problem. The offshore tax havens were processing tax-free what was estimated by the FBI and Scotland Yard to account for 60 percent of all the money in the world.

The confrontation between the US and the Cayman Islands is where I receive my initiation into this struggle between Good and Evil. The economic stability of the strongest country on earth is being threatened by one of the smallest islands in the Caribbean. I learn that nearly every dollar bank note in circulation in the US for more than three months has traceable smudges of drug powder on it.

Before flying over to Grand Cayman, I study everything I can about the place. The Cayman Islands is projecting its image euphemistically as an international offshore financial center . The term tax haven has vanished from its vocabulary, and no mention is made of fly-by-night racketeers or of bankers and their accountants burning documents at night in the parking lots behind the banks. Official publications assure visitors that the Cayman Islands is paradise on earth but self-praise is no recommendation, and things are not always what they are claimed to be. It is a short while after race riots in the Bahamas and an assassination attempt on the Governor of Bermuda; so the Caymans are proud to boast that their little colony enjoys total racial harmony. The facts are rather different. Another Cayman boast is that they had eliminated mosquitoes. Perhaps true but no mention is made of the sand-flies that tear your
skin to pieces and that have taken over the island after a real estate development scam had collapsed leaving moist trenches a few miles from the capital Georgetown.

It is no secret that this huge and expanding financial center is being built by drug dealers and tax dodgers. A child could have written my opinion of advice to the IRS it was so obvious. Bring in the other big countries to force international collaboration, or nothing much will ever be able to be done to stop money laundering or prevent wealthy Americans from using the Cayman Islands to evade taxes on an industrial scale. The US could not possibly curb these illegal operations without effective cooperation from other countries. These recommendations are followed.

By the end of the century, the US is well positioned to pressure the Cayman Islands and other tax havens into a measure of collaboration and force exchanges of information. Try this one for size: If you don’t collaborate we won’t allow any of your dollars back into the world banking system. Even a worm may turn Anyone visiting the islands today will indeed find a bona fide international offshore financial center, excellent race relations, and some serious attempts at controlling bloodsucking insects and bankers.

The Cayman Islands government eventually came to realize that the better interest of the colony lies in cooperation with the US. Now the Cayman Islands is rated the most lawfully compliant of the Caribbean tax havens.

I always feel proud of opportunities to do anything useful for Uncle Sam he’s done a lot for all of us.

Tax Planning Tips from Al Capone on what NOT to do Tax Evasion

Al Capone, the most notorious gangster in the annals of organized crime, known, by no means affectionately, as Scar-Face , and the criminal who made more money out of crime than any criminal before or since, was, unbelievably, nailed for what was certainly the least heinous of his crimes tax evasion. At a time when the other law-enforcement agencies were losing the battle against the underworld, the only card that the US government was able to play effectively in its game to beat Al Capone, turned out to be his fiscal delinquency. When the Special Intelligence

Unit of the Treasury had obtained enough evidence to prove that Al Capone was evading tax, they invited him in for some intense grilling. Remembering that his brother Ralph had been sentenced to three years for tax evasion, Al Capone accepted the invitations and made several visits, suitably escorted by a Washington lawyer who answered all questions for him.

Al Capone said hardly anything to the Inspector. But as he left the interviews, he squinted through his scar-face and muttered: Now, just you take good care of yourself!

Al Capone was understandably somewhat sensitive about the source of his income, and his lawyer explained to the Commissioner that he was a member of an organization that kept no books. Consequently, it was difficult for him to reach any accurate figure of his share of the profits. Finally, his lawyer did admit that Al Capone had some income, though never in excess of $100,000 in any single year. The Commissioner asked for this in writing and Al Capone wrote confirming it, but drawing the Commissioner’s attention to the fact that he was the sole support of his widowed mother, that his house was mortgaged to the hilt, and that he had a sister and son to support. It was very touching. Nevertheless, it was the admission of undeclared income contained in this letter that helped to put Al Capone away for life.

Not only has Dr Spitz never lost an international tax case no plan he has constructed has ever been challenged - Offshore Investment


Uncle Sam, my favorite Damsel in Distress

One doesn’t easily perceive of Uncle Sam as a damsel in distress. Still, if you’re the kind who likes playing Sir Galahad, one damsel in distress is as good as another.

Being a professor at a leading southern university is like putting up a billboard on a busy highway. Congress invites me to testify on what to do with its treaty-partners who are using the US tax treaties to spin off a sizable portion of the national wealth into offshore incentive arrangements. A treaty is a deal between partners intended for the benefit of one another. But the way these disloyal treaty partners are operating is to permit the use of what should have been a fair deal between equals, as a conduit to third parties to deprive the US of trillions of dollars of taxable income.

The visit to Congress and the reception that the Ways and Means team gives me are a summit experience in my professional life. It was as if they opened Washington DC for me. I leave with etchings and paintings, books about the Constitution and Capital Hill, and big beautiful American flags to grace my home and office.

I explain, in a worse than tedious fashion, to the Committee, how “treaty shopping” works: how sharp attorneys and accountants employ a carefully chosen treaty link or series of links to create a plumbing conduit to suck profits out of the US through a country like the Netherlands and to dump them tax-free in the Bahamas. My recommendation comes straight to the point: Immediately cancel the treaties that are not useful to the US and inform all the disloyal treaty countries that they are to stop the abuse or face cancellation of their treaties by the US.

It’s nice to see the advice that one gives turn into action – and, even more so, into successful action. Immediately, the treaties with the Netherlands Antilles and the British Virgin Islands are terminated, and the treaty with the Netherlands is redrafted. US big business now has to use Wall Street instead of Curacao, Road Town, and Amsterdam.

From now on, the US whams down on treaty shopping, and this attack works even better as the US pulls in support from other high tax countries and from the OECD, in blacklisting abusive tax leak countries. Trillions of dollars are now being pulled back into the national coffers that would otherwise have been lost. While I am pleased to receive an invitation from Harcourt’s and then Aspen Publishers in New York to write a book on the tax havens of the world from the point of view of US law, I receive unpleasant comments from my colleagues who do not entirely approve of my report on how the Netherlands, the Netherlands Antilles, and the British Virgin Islands
abuse their tax treaties with the US. They point out the career cost to them, as well as to myself, resulting from the technical testimony given to Congress. The worst comments come from the Beltway Bandits. These are the consultants whose offices are on the Beltway surrounding Washington DC. The revolving door is when you set up projects for yourself while in office and collect your favors later. No one entertains you better than former senators and congressmen when they think that you may be useful – and no one drops you harder when they see that you are not.

Tax Planning Tips from the Naked lady on the White Horse

Lady Godiva’s husband, Leofric Earl of Mercia, promises to remit the oppressive taxes that he has imposed on the inhabitants of Coventry if she will ride nakedthrough the streets at noon. Lady Godiva duly directs the people to keep within doors and shut their windows. Then, accompanied by two stalwart soldiers, she undertakes the ride with only her hair covering her body. On her return Leofric issues a charter freeing the city of Coventry “from servitude.” Leofric’s payoff does not lie in indulging a penchant for vicarious exhibitionism. On the contrary, he uses the incident to head off a dangerous tax revolt led by his own good lady.

“Not only has Dr Spitz never lost an international tax case – no plan he has constructed
has ever been challenged”
- Offshore Investment


Friday, October 10, 2008

Barry's First Blog

“When Opportunity knocks, open the door post haste – unless your name is Barry Spitz,in which case, Opportunity knocks the door down.”

Financial Times

Barry's Main Blog Page

Hello. I’m Barry – blue-eyed lanky boy, born in Johannesburg, descended from the Founding Fathers of this gold mining village, educated in Paris, and adopted by Houston Texas.

Albert Einstein tells us that: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

I try to live my life as if nothing is a miracle. But somehow everything that happens to me is a miracle. It was miracle that brought me to Rice University and Texas big business. How else could I have George Bush Senior as a colleague and George Bush Junior as a client?

- George Bush Junior and George Bush Senior

Why am I telling this little story that flies in the face of all the Bush stereotypes? Because famous men are also human beings – and this is a very human story of very human men. It is probable that no one would remember this tender little true story, except perhaps the two men themselves and I. My daughter went to the same school in Houston as had the son, a state school – and you don’t get more pedestrian than that. In the South you find bullet holes in the windows of the state schools.

My first American client turns up in the form of an athletic young man in jeans and running shoes. He shows me a business plan and asks me to debug it for him. Is it totally lawful? Is it totally workable? I call him the next week to assure him that his business plan is both totally lawful and totally workable.

Then a bit later, the young man in jeans and running shoes makes another appointment to see me. He asks me how much money he owes me, he pays, and he then informs me that he has decided not to proceed with his business plan.

“My father has told me that he will be running for office in the 1980 presidential. No matter how good the project, I am scrapping it – just in case the business doesn’t work out. I would hate to do anything that could embarrass my father or hurt his campaign.”

Over the years, George Bush Junior has come to play a major role on the world stage. I still see him as the dutiful son who came into my office in Houston in 1978 in jeans and running shoes. Good fortune has led me to Rice University in Houston Texas, where I take up an appointment as Adjunct Professor at the Graduate School of Administration. Rice University is a gem of the highest academic standards, set in a brilliantly beautiful campus. Rice calls itself “the Harvard of the South”, though I never hear anyone referring to Harvard as “the Rice of the North”. Rice is a university endowed with oil royalties; students enter only on scholarships, making us suspect that many of the students are a lot smarter than many of the professors.

Teaching at Rice Business School is an almost automatic entrée to the Houston and Dallas Petroleum Clubs and, through them, to American big business.

George Bush Senior is a colleague, also an Adjunct Professor at Rice University; for a time, we have both been staying in apartments at The Houstonian, where he is the most serious track runner, making the rest of us – and even his bodyguards, panting to keep up with him – look like lame dogs. I tell him of the loyalty that his son had shown him at the time when he was getting set to announce his presidential candidature.

– Brother, have you seen the light?

One thing about the US – you really learn about hands-on tax planning. U.S. judges have always been outspoken in their views that there is no patriotic duty to increase one’s taxes. Tax avoidance is arranging your affairs so that you pay less tax than you would have paid but for the arrangement.

The 236 residents of Hardenburgh found to their considerable displeasure that more and more land in their Catskill Mountain town was being bought by religious and educational organizations and thereby being removed from the tax roll. As their own taxes had thus crept up by three and four times in the preceding six years, the long-time residents at first tried to have the property law changed. But having failed to get the results they wanted, they recalled the old saying: “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em!” And they did. The neighborhood plumber duly became a bishop of the Universal Life Church, a California-based organization that for $75 bestows degrees by mail; then called a big meeting in the Hardenburgh community hall; and “ordained” all comers. Now the residents of Hardenburgh address other residents as “Reverend” and ask one another half-jestingly: “Brother, have you seen the light?”

Barry's Main Blog Page