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CF&P E-mail Update, August 10, 2007

Center for Freedom and Prosperity's E-mail Update

1) Washington Update

2) CF&P Educates Congress

3) Iceland's Tax System: CF&P Foundation Releases Fifth in a Series on Country Tax Systems

4) Senators Promote Fiscal Protectionism, Introduce Bills that Would Undermine U.S. Competitiveness

5) Washington Politicians Seeking to Eviscerate Internet Tax Moratorium

6) CF&P's The Market Center Blog

7) Dan Mitchell to Speak on Tax Competition and Financial Privacy in England and Romania

8) Former Prime Minister of Estonia Explains Estonian Economic Miracle

9) Tax Havens: Myth Versus Reality

10) New AEI Study Shows Value of Tax Competition

11) Cato Scholars Discuss Tax Policy and Tax Competition, Denounce OECD Tax Harmonization Effort

12) Article on Global Flat Tax Revolution: 17 Nations, With More to Come


1) Washington Update

Many of our long-time friends and supporters have asked us to rejuvenate our "email update," which is the system we have used to spread information about the tax competition battle. As you can see at this website (
), the email updates have become more sporadic in recent years, in large part because the Center has focused more on the long-run intellectual battle. But the change in congressional control requires a change in Center strategy. The plethora of bad bills sponsored by statist lawmakers like Sen. Carl Levin and Rep. Lloyd Doggett indicates that fiscal protectionism and bad tax policy are now a very serious threat. So, without further build-up, here is the first of what we promise will be a fortnightly update.

Over the last five weeks, as part of our continuing effort to educate key players in Washington on the importance of tax competition and to explain why anti-tax competition legislation should be rejected, we have met with more than 75 members of the House of Representatives. There is no substitute for face-to-face meetings with members of Congress and their staff. We plan on meeting with 250 to 300 Senators and Representatives (or their high-level staff) over the next several months. This update includes some of the material we use at the meetings. We also discuss in detail the anti-tax haven bills pushed by Senator Dorgan, Senator Levin and Representative Doggett, as well as the need to protect the Internet from discriminatory taxes and regulation.

Also in this email update we feature CF&P Foundation s recent Prosperitas study on the tax system of Iceland. We find that Iceland's flat tax and other supply-side reforms have boosted growth and generated significant Laffer Curve effects. Our analysis will provide further evidence that free-market tax policies increase freedom and prosperity. This is our fifth study we have released in our series of studies on tax systems from around the world.

My colleague Dan Mitchell will travel to Europe this September to speak on tax competition and financial privacy in England, Monaco, Belgium and Romania. He will emphasize the positive economic effects of jurisdictional competition and financial privacy, and also meet with key policy makers to discuss the importants of pro-growth policies.

We feature many important articles and studies in this e-mail update including Mart Laar's  first-hand account of how Estonia achieved remarkable economic success by following the principles of economic freedom. Mr. Laar's perspective is interesting since he is the former Prime Minister of Estonia and his story will remind everyone that the link between economic freedom and prosperity is undeniable. 

Over the next several issues of CF&P's Email Update, we will reinforce the points made in our CF&P Foundation Prosperitas: "Tax Havens: Myth Versus Reality." We will review the eleven facts in the paper that show that low-tax jurisdictions promote economic growth, sound fiscal policy, and individual liberty.

Also make sure you checkout our section on our daily web log The Market Center Blog .  We hope you make the blog a daily habit.

Best regards,  AQ


2) CF&P Educates Congress

Over the last five weeks we have meet with representatives of more than 75 members of the House of Representatives. These one-on-one meetings are very important to our mission to educate policy makers and lawmakers on the need to preserve tax competition, protect financial privacy and promote fiscal sovereignty. Each meeting is different but we try to cover our core issues and issues of the day. In order to get a better idea on what we cover during a meeting, below are links to fact sheets that we share with each Congressman and/or staffer we meet with:

We will continue our meetings and we plan on visiting at least once more than 300 offices by the end of this session of Congress. We will meet with some offices more than once since we will be working with many of the tax-writing Committee members and leadership offices.


3) Iceland's Tax System: CF&P Foundation Releases Fifth in a Series on Country Tax Systems

Study Finds that Iceland's Flat Tax and Other Supply-Side Reforms Boost Growth, Generate Significant Laffer Curve Effects

[Excerpt from study's press release;]

The Center for Freedom and Prosperity Foundation today released a report on the dramatic tax reforms that have taken place in Iceland. Entitled "The Iceland Tax System -- Key Features and Lessons for Policy Makers," the study is authored by Dr. Hannes Gissurarson a Professor of Politics at the University of Iceland and Dr. Daniel Mitchell a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute. Gissurarson and Mitchell found that the flat tax, a low-rate 18 percent corporate income tax, a 10-percent flat tax on capital income, and repeal of the wealth tax have dramatically boosted Iceland's economy, reversing the stagnation and instability that plagued the nation in the 1980s.

The reforms in Iceland have yielded big dividends. Iceland is a rich and successful nation. Lower tax rates and supply-side policies have boosted growth, increased efficiency, and made the country more competitive. The three biggest reforms are the low corporate tax rate, the low-rate flat tax on capital income, and the intermediate-rate flat tax on labor income. The authors find considerable evidence that the first two reforms have been very successful. Indeed, they also find it is quite likely that the lower rates have generated significant Laffer Curve effects – meaning the government collects more revenue at a lower tax rate. These observations and many others are discussed in CF&P Foundation's recent study on Iceland's tax system, which is the fifth research paper in a series of studies examining different tax systems from around the world. [Link to full release and study below:]

August 9, 2007, CF&P Foundation Press Release

August 2007, CF&P Foundation, Properitas, Vol. VII, Issue V, "The Iceland Tax System -- Key Features and Lessons for Policy Makers," by Hannes Gissurarson and Daniel J. Mitchell. Web page link below:

Note: Over the next few months, the CF&P Foundation will release several more papers reviewing the tax systems of selected countries. The next study will examine the tax system of Russia. We also plan on issuing studies on the tax regimes of Ireland, France, and the United Kingdom. The four previous published papers in the series were on the tax systems of Sweden, Slovakia, Switzerland and Hong Kong.

Links to previous tax system studies:


4) Senators Promote Fiscal Protectionism, Introduce Bills that Would Undermine U.S. Competitiveness

Senators Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Carl Levin (D-MI) have introduced legislation—S. 396 and S. 681 respectively—that discriminate against low-tax jurisdictions. Senator Dorgan's bill, S. 396, prevents American companies from "deferring" the imposition of a second layer tax on their foreign-source income if they operate in selected low-tax nations. Senator Levin's legislation, S. 681, imposes taxes, regulations, and penalties on American taxpayers (other than publicly-traded companies) operating in targeted low-tax jurisdictions.

Both of these pieces of legislation are deeply flawed. They share a common premise that the U.S. government should adopt an adversarial position against jurisdictions with pro-growth tax policy.  Both bills have three common flaws:

  •   They undermine American competitiveness;
  •   They create discriminatory blacklists; and,
  •   They violate America's WTO trade obligations.

The United States is not a decrepit, high-tax European welfare state, yet this legislation is akin to the noxious tax harmonization schemes concocted in various European nations. The Senators put the interest of European nations above America's self-interest and they seek to thwart tax competition and penalize good tax policy in other jurisdictions

In fact, if some lawmakers are concerned that American taxpayers are shifting economic activity to low-tax jurisdictions because of better tax law, they should respond by fixing some of the laws in the internal revenue code, many of which were identified by the President's Advisory Panel on Tax Reform.

[Note: Rep Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) introduced the companion (H.R. 2136) to Senator Levin's bill in the House.]

Additional Information:

March 20, 2007, CF&P Foundation Press Statement, "Coalition for Tax Competition Urges Treasury to Reject Senate Proposals that Penalize Americans Who Invest in Nations with Competitive Tax Regimes"

April 4, 2007, Wall Street Journal -- Asia, by Dan Mitchell, Taking Aim at Low Taxes

Dorgan & Levin: Complete List of Included Jurisdictions


5) Washington Politicians Seeking to Eviscerate Internet Tax Moratorium

Consumers of high-tech products, including the Internet and wireless services, soon may face higher taxes unless the Internet tax moratorium is extended. Two Senators actually are trying to gut the law so that state and local politicians can add to the already discriminatory tax burden imposed on the industry.

[Below Jack Kemp explains why this would be a bad idea:]

Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Thomas R. Carper, D-Del., want to permit the future taxation of Internet services... Since 1998, an existing Federal moratorium placed on unfair state and local taxes on Internet access and commerce has protected the average Internet surfer, small and large businesses, shoppers, students, seniors, policy experts, researchers and many others from multiple and discriminatory taxes on their varying levels of Internet usage. Twice, this moratorium has been extended in Washington, in 2001 and 2004, both times with a large number of bipartisan co-sponsors and ultimately, bipartisan votes on the House and Senate floors. Unfortunately, the current Internet tax moratorium is again set to expire in late November 2007. Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and John McCain, R-Ariz., and Reps. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., and Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., have introduced legislation to make this moratorium permanent. ...Wireless consumers overwhelmingly want to prevent more taxes on wireless, currently paying on average over 14 percent in monthly taxes, fees and surcharges. ...Without permanence, state and local governments could soon view booming Internet access and commerce trends as an easy target for additional tax revenues to fund ever-expanding state and local spending. This potential is especially alarming, given the high level of taxes already imposed upon other communications services across the board, particularly wireless service. [Link to full report below:]

June 25, 2007,, by Jack Kemp, Keep the Internet Tax-Free

Note: The above information first appeared on our daily web log The Market Center Blog:


6) CF&P's The Market Center Blog

The Center's daily blog has been up and running for the last 43 months without missing a day. We have more than 4,300 entries since February 9, 2004 and more than 600 this year alone. We have many daily readers of our blog and we send out an e-mail summary every two weeks. In fact, noted tax and economic expert Lawrence Kudlow said the following about the MCB:

"For all the latest on pro-growth policies, especially tax-rates and free-trade, the Center for Freedom and Prosperity and its blog site are a must read each day. US and global news and opinion are highlighted. It's indispensable."

David Keene, Chairman of the American Conservative Union said:

"I'm sure you hear this from others, but I just want you to know that I think this is the best stuff I get. Period!"

And a loyal reader said the following:

"[The Market Center Blog] gives us a tsunami of empirical facts that sustain economic theories, making theories not only understandable to public opinion, but believable too."

Make sure you make a daily trip to our web site to get a daily dose of The Market Center Blog. Link:

Here are a few headlines and links to a few of our recent entries

Government-Controlled Investment is a Bad Deal for Taxpayers

Economist Magazine Highlights Risks of High Corporate Tax Rate

Anti-Offshore Tax Hike Added to Farm Bill

The Political Threat to the Economy and Financial Markets

The Laffer Curve: Separating Fact from Fiction


7) Dan Mitchell to Speak on Tax Competition and Financial Privacy in England and Romania

September 6: International Economic Crime Symposium, Cambridge, England:

September 7: Offshore Investment Symposium, Oxford, England:

September 13-16: European Resource Bank, Bucharest, Romania:

Note: More information in future updates about events in Monaco and Belgium.


8) Former Prime Minister of Estonia Explains Estonian Economic Miracle

Mart Laar, the former Prime Minister of Estonia, writes his first-hand account of how Estonia achieved notable economic success by following the principles of economic freedom.

[Excerpt from the Heritage Backgrounder:]

Estonia is a small country in Northern Europe on the Baltic Sea, at the crossroads of East and West, South and North. Samuel Huntington states that the Estonian border is a border of Western civilization, a border where civilizations clash.[1] This has made Estonia interesting to historians but hard for people who live there.

Throughout history, Estonians have had to fight for their freedom. In 1918, Estonia declared independence. It was occupied by the Soviet Union in 1940 during the Second World War. We fought the commu­nist terror during the war but were defeated. As a result of the occupation, Estonia lost nearly 20 percent of its population.

But we never gave up. When the 1980s offered us a new chance, we took advantage of it. Estonia became one of the first countries to pry open the cracks in the Soviet Empire. Finally, in 1991, after 50 years of occu­pation, Estonia became free again.

We had freedom but little else. Estonia was destroyed during the period of communist rule. In 1939, Estonia's living standards and way of life were more or less the same as neighboring Finland's. Then Estonia lost its independence, but Finland, despite losing territory and population, succeeded in keeping its independence. Life under two different political systems created a huge disparity in the development of Finland and Estonia. People learned and worked hard on both sides of the Finnish Bay, but only the Finns seemed to prosper. After starting from the same point, Finland's gross domestic product (GDP) reached $14,370 per capita by 1987, while optimis­tic calculations put Estonia's GDP at only about $2,000 per capita.

At the same time, even opponents of commu­nism often failed to see the real economic problems stemming from the socialist way of thinking. People overwhelmingly hoped that removing the communists from power and liberalizing the economy would be enough to enable their country to quickly reach the same living standards as in Western Europe. Nobody actually understood how back­ward and underdeveloped the communist econo­mies really were. As a result, the return to the free world was harder and more painful than anybody could have predicted. [Link to full report below:]

August 7, 2007, The Heritage Foundation-Backgrounder #2060, by Mart Laar, The Estonian Economic Miracle


9) Tax Havens: Myth Versus Reality

Over the next several issues of CF&P's Email Update we will re-emphasize the points made in our CF&P Foundation Prosperitas "Tax Havens: Myth Versus Reality." (  These are important myths that need to be corrected so policymakers will not be duped by tax-loving lawmakers.

Myth Versus Reality #1:  There is not a significant "offshore evasion" problem.

According to IRS tax gap estimates, there is no number for "offshore." To be sure, there doubtlessly is some evasion, and it probably is assumed in one or more of the other categories in the IRS estimates, but the supposed problem is relatively trivial. A former Democratic staffer named Jack Blum concocted an estimate of $70 billion. When former House Majority Leader Dick Armey asked CRS to get the methodology for the number, Blum confessed, for all intents and purposes, that he made it up.

March 2007, Cato Institute, by Daniel Mitchell, The Tax Gap Mirage

Internal Revenue Service, The Tax Gap
[Note: Focus especially on pages 8 and 11]

July 23, 2001, CRS letter: Blum's Make-Believe Number


10) New AEI Study Shows Value of Tax Competition

Research from two American Enterprise Institute scholars finds that countries are more likely to lower corporate tax rates if their neighbors have lower rates. In addition to this tax-competition effect, nations also are more likely to lower rates if they have lowered rates in the past, largely because they have seen the beneficial impact of lower rates.

[The following is an excerpt from the study:]

Historical trends suggest that countries do not set their tax rates independently. The top statutory corporate tax rate has declined significantly for most OECD and non-OECD countries since the early 1980s... the median tax rate among the OECD economies declined from about 50 percent in 1982 to 34 percent by 2003. ...While a part of this may be driven by international tax competition, it could also partially be attributed to their potential realization that lower tax rates have resulted in higher levels of investment, higher wages and employment for their labor force and higher GDP growth. Our results suggest the presence of both 'strategic' factors i.e. lowering tax rates in response to other countries and 'learning' factors i.e. a country's realization from its own experience that lower corporate taxes are beneficial for investment, wages and economic growth. ...a 10 percent decrease in the neighbor's corporate tax rate leads to a 4.6 percent decrease in a country's corporate tax rate. ...Our results suggest that more open economies are less likely to raise rates, or more likely to have lower rates. ...Countries with some experience of lowering rates, especially those that experienced economic growth subsequent to the tax reform are significantly less likely to have high rates of corporate taxes. ...Greater levels of openness as captured by higher trade to GDP ratios and more capital mobility imply that countries are more likely to lower rates. This is especially true when capital is freely mobile since the mobility of capital leads to greater competition among countries. Capital flows from high tax to low tax jurisdictions. (Link to full study below.)

August 1, 2007, American Enterprise Institute Working Paper #138, By Aparna Mathur & Kevin A. Hassett, Predicting Tax Reform  Print Mail,pubID.26587/pub_detail.asp

Note: The above information first appeared on our daily web log The Market Center Blog:


11) Cato Scholars Discuss Tax Policy and Tax Competition, Denounce OECD Tax Harmonization Effort

Dan Mitchell and Chris Edwards of the Cato Institute were interviewed by Tax Analysts on many important issues that CF&P tracks.  The following are a few excerpts from Dan Mitchell's comments:

Tax Havens

TA:Tell me, what legitimate business could U.S. taxpayers have in the Cayman Islands?

Mitchell: The senator should take a look at Delaware. More than 100,000 entities have registered at one address in that state and about 200,000 are registered at another address, but they conduct their real activity elsewhere. The place of registration is merely a reflection of the quality of a jurisdiction's business law. Delaware also protects the privacy of investors. European tax collectors, for instance, complain it is even less transparent and more secretive than the Cayman Islands. States like Delaware and jurisdictions like the Cayman Islands should exist because their progrowth tax policies put pressure on high-tax countries, such as France and Germany, to reform their antigrowth tax policies. Once governments realize that the goose that lays the golden egg can fly away, then they will be more concerned about keeping that goose happy at home.

Tax competition is driving the shift toward better tax policy. In the absence of a Margaret Thatcher or a Ronald Reagan, it is up to market forces to keep pressure on high-tax countries.

The OECD and Harmful Tax Competition

TA: I recently interviewed Jeffrey Owens, head of the OECD's Centre for Tax Policy and Administration. (See Tax Notes Int'l, May 28, 2007, p. 913.) He believes that the OECD project has been quite successful, as demonstrated in part by the creation of the Global Forum on Taxation that brings together financial centers in more than 80 OECD and non-OECD countries…  Given these achievements, wouldn't you describe the project as highly successful in bringing about greater transparency and more effective exchange of information on tax matters?

Mitchell: The OECD project has been an expensive failure. Yes, persecuted low-tax jurisdictions have agreed to become ''participating partners'' in the OECD Global Forum, but this is a Potemkin village exercise. Every year or two, all the OECD and tax haven jurisdictions get together and talk about how wonderful it would be to have a level playing field. But so long as nations like Switzerland, Luxembourg, Singapore, and the United States maintain their attractive laws for nonresident investors, there is no obligation for so-called tax havens to emasculate their pro-growth policies. Since I wake up every morning thinking of how to throw sand into the gears of the OECD and EU tax harmonization projects, this is good news.

TA: Many argue that the effort to curb harmful tax competition imposes collateral damage on developing countries. What is the evidence for this?

Mitchell: If the OECD had succeeded in its project to harmonize tax rates, then we would have seen harm in many of the blacklisted tax haven jurisdictions. We also would have seen economic damage in high-tax nations since politicians would be more likely to raise tax rates in the absence of competition. But since the OECD has failed in its project, we have been spared its harmful effects.

TA: I challenge your statement about the lack of beneficial effects from the project. The OECD project has been highly successful…

Mitchell: I would say that you give the OECD too much credit. The U.S. has been able to bully many jurisdictions into many tax information exchange agreements, but this is a result of U.S. power, not the OECD. In fact, I argue that the tax havens decided that they would ''surrender'' to the United States to get the OECD to back off. Once the U.S. was ''appeased,'' then the havens were in the clear.

I suggest that it is the Financial Action Tax Force that has had greater success through the broad implementation of ''know your customer'' rules. But, on the other side, it probably has caused the most damage because the regulations impose very high costs with very little benefit.

I also would like to note that the research shows no evidence that tax havens have more ''dirty money'' than nontax havens. The tax havens have an enormous stake in preserving their reputation. Just think of the consequences that would have fallen on the tax havens if the September 11 terrorists had used a bank in the Bahamas for their financial transactions instead of a U.S. bank? Tax havens cannot afford to shelter criminals. I'm not saying that there is no money laundering in the tax havens, only that there is no evidence that it is any more prevalent in the havens than elsewhere.

Again, I suggest that the law and order approach taken by the OECD is not working.

Reducing corporate tax rates will solve most of the problems facing the OECD, the United States, and the other member countries. (Link to full interview below.)

July 30, 2007, Tax Notes, Interviewed by Joann M. Weiner, Conversations: Daniel Mitchell and Chris Edwards


12) Article on Global Flat Tax Revolution: 17 Nations, With More to Come

[Excerpt from Cato Policy Report below:]

In the early 1990s, Rep. Dick Armey (RTX) proposed a flat tax. He would have junked the Internal Revenue Code and replaced it with a system designed to raise revenue in a much less destructive fashion. The core principles were to tax income at one low rate, to eliminate double taxation of saving and investment, and to wipe out the special preferences, credits, exemptions, deductions, and other loopholes that caused complexity, distortions, and corruption.

The flat tax never made it through Congress, but it's been adopted by more than a dozen other countries since 1994.

It's unfortunate that the United States is missing out on the tax reform revolution…

Today, much of the world seems to have learned the lessons that members of Congress didn't. Beginning with Estonia in 1994, a growing number of nations have joined the flat tax club. There are now 17 jurisdictions that have some form of flat tax, and two more nations are about to join the club. As seen in Table 1, most of the new flat tax nations are former Soviet republics or former Soviet bloc nations, perhaps because people who suffered under communism are less susceptible to class-warfare rhetoric about "taxing the rich."…

…Although the flat tax revolution has been impressive, there are still significant hurdles. Most important, international bureaucracies are obstacles to tax reform, both because they are ideologically opposed to the flat tax and because they represent the interests of high-tax nations that want tax harmonization rather than tax competition. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, for instance, has a "harmful tax competition"

The OECD is not alone in the fight. The European Commission also has a number of anti-tax-competition schemes. The United Nations, too, is involved and even has a proposal for an International Tax Organization. All of those international bureaucracies are asserting the right to dictate "best practices" that would limit the types of tax policy a jurisdiction could adopt. Unfortunately, their definition of best practices is based on what makes life easier for politicians rather than what promotes prosperity.

Fortunately, these efforts to create a global tax cartel have largely been thwarted, and an "OPEC for politicians" is still just a gleam in the eyes of French and German politicians. That means that tax competition is still flourishing, and that means that the flat tax club is likely to get larger rather than smaller.

July/August 2007, Cato Policy Report, By Dan Mitchell, The Global Flat Tax Revolution


Best regards,

Andrew Quinlan
Center for Freedom and Prosperity


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