51 economies sign pact to fight tax evasion

BERLIN, Oct. 29 (Xinhua) — 51 economies signed a pact in Berlin on Wednesday to exchange financial information in order to fight against tax evasion.

By signing the pact which was officially named as Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement, governments were committed to exchanging a wide range of financial information including account balances and beneficial ownership with other participating countries.

The agreement was an outcome of a two-day international meeting on tax transparency, which was hosted in Berlin and coordinated by Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

“Banking secrecy in its old form has become obsolete,” German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble told the meeting.

According to the agreement, data exchange would start in September 2017 among “early adopters”. Others was expected to follow in 2018.

“This (agreement) will make it possible to stamp out the crime of tax evasion and to tackle tax fraud…Tax evaders have two choices – come forward or be caught,” a joint statement by the 51 signers read.

“We are making concrete progress toward the G20 objective of winning the fight against tax evasion,” said OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria after the signing ceremony.

Xinhua

Cayman Islands agrees to report US citizens’ offshore assets under controversial law

The Cayman Islands has signed an agreement with the United States to combat offshore tax evasion pursuant to a controversial 2010 law that has caused some notable US expatriates to revoke their US citizenship.

The US Department of the Treasury announced Friday the US has signed an intergovernmental agreement with the Cayman Islands to enforce the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) in what it bills as an effort to promote transparency.

In the Cayman Islands – one of the world’s largest offshore financial centers – foreign financial institutions (FFIs) will be required to share tax information about US account holders with the IRS via the Cayman Islands Tax Information Authority.

Passed by Congress in 2010, FATCA seeks to snuff out Americans avoiding US taxes overseas by requiring FFIs to report yearly to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on US citizens holding over $50,000 at a year’s end. Should FFIs refuse to share the information, US financial institutions are ordered to withhold a portion of payments made to the FFIs. The FFIs can make agreements directly with the IRS or follow one of two kinds of agreements their host country signs. The Caymans’ agreement is a Model 1B agreement; a different agreement signed Tuesday with Costa Rica is a Model 1A.


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http://rt.com/business/cayman-tax-report-agreement-505/

Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development announced plans to reduce tax evasion

OECD
Revealed the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and developed new plans to deal with tax evasion, which is practiced in some countries. The source stressed in the organization on the necessity of improving the exchange of information between agencies

Tax on individuals and institutions and thus can detect any questionable work out better .. and the European Union is estimated that hundreds of millions of the euro are lost each year due to tax evasion.

 

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The European Union will discuss a plan to combat tax evasion

Brussels – Reuters – AFP
The European Union intends to lay the foundations for a plan to combat tax evasion before the summit, which will take 10 days after this file, which now occupies a central position after detecting the case «Ovcoreliks» and the Group of Twenty invitations to improve the fight against this scourge.

The pressure intensified Friday with the announcement of Britain and the United States and Australia to open an investigation and broad international after receiving thousands of electronic records about secret accounts in tax paradises.

It will be in front of the Finance Ministers of the Member States in the Union during their monthly meeting a lot of work ahead of summit scheduled on May 22 in Brussels. He said the European Commissioner in charge of the Lithuanian tax Djidras Simita: «will be in front of them a chance century words with deeds will not keep them any justification If it not».

The first task is to convince Vienna to lift part of banking secrecy also committed to this Luxembourg Finally, while the subject Vienna to a lot of pressure because they are the only country of the European Union which does not allow the exchange of automatic data bank and hamper the ratification of the EU on savings has been modified to improve the anti- tax evasion. Vienna San Chancellor Werner Faymann willingness to negotiate but with conditions which retain banking secrecy Austrians and residents not to amend the bilateral agreements with Switzerland and Liechtenstein on the exchange of banking data. But Europeans do not intend this limit sufficiency.

And Jose Manuel Barroso said: The «European Union puts several years ago the principle of exchange of automatic information at the heart of his approach, it is important to extend this procedure to all forms of resources», wrote to the leaders of the twenty-seven urging them to make decisions during the upcoming summit in order to strengthen Anti-fraud and tax evasion. In order to improve the system tax fraud Europeans also want to renegotiate tax agreements with other countries outside the European Union, and in this context, is supposed to give the European Commission a mandate to open negotiations with Switzerland, Andorra, Monaco and San Marin and Liechtenstein.

http://www.alsabaah.iq/ArticleShow.aspx?ID=46577

US joins UK and Australia in a bid to expose tax cheats

smartphone
WASHINGTON – Tax authorities in the US, the UK and Australia have decided to join hands in an effort to expose tax cheats from around the world after having culled substantial new data including names of individuals trying to evade paying taxes through a multitude of trusts and companies.

These trusts and companies hold assets including in Singapore, the British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands and the Cook Islands on behalf of residents in jurisdictions throughout the world, the new data has revealed, stated the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) which has been working with the Australian Tax Office and UK’s HM Revenue Customs to analyze this data and have uncovered information that may be relevant to tax administrations of other jurisdictions.

The three tax authorities have jointly developed a plan for sharing the data, as well as their preliminary analysis, if requested by those other tax administrations, the IRS said in a statement Thursday.

“This is part of a wider effort by the IRS and other tax administrations to pursue international tax evasion,” said IRS Acting Commissioner Steven T. Miller. “Our cooperative work with the United Kingdom and Australia reflects a bigger goal of leaving no safe haven for people trying to illegally evade taxes.”

The data collected purportedly contains both the identities of the individual owners of these entities, along with the advisors who assisted in establishing the entity structure.

While there is nothing illegal about holding assets through offshore entities, such offshore arrangements are often used to avoid or evade tax liabilities on income represented by the principal or on the income generated by the underlying assets, the IRS pointed out.

In addition, advisors may be subject to civil penalties or criminal prosecution for promoting such arrangements as a means to avoid or evade tax liability or circumvent information reporting requirements.

Last month, a group known as the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, reported that they had uncovered a large cache of secret documents revealing that tens of thousands of people, including government officials from around the world, are using offshore companies and trusts to avoid taxes.

On Thursday, the ICIJ said it believes the secret records described by the IRS are believed to include those it obtained. It noted that British tax authorities claim they have even more data than that unearthed by ICIJ. The total size of the ICIJ files, measured in gigabytes, is more than 160 times larger than the leak of U.S. State Department documents by Wikileaks in 2010.

A statement from the British tax office puts the size of the data obtained by the three tax authorities at 400 gigabytes, compared to the 260 gigabytes gathered by the ICIJ.

“The 400 gigabytes of data is still being analyzed but early results show the use of companies and trusts in a number of territories around the world including Singapore, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands and the Cook Islands,” the British tax office statement said. “The data also exposes information that may be shared with other tax administrations as part of the global fight against tax evasion.”

The IRS stepped up its efforts to go after international tax cheats in 2009, when Swiss banking giant UBS AG agreed to pay a $US780 million ($A770.79 million) fine and turn over details on thousands of accounts suspected of holding undeclared assets from American customers.

Since then, the agency has conducted three voluntary disclosure programs in which tax cheats can come clean in exchange for reduced penalties and no jail time.

A total of 38,000 people have come clean under the programs and the IRS says it has recouped more than $5.5 billion in penalties and interest.

The IRS is using information from people who have come forward to target banks and financial advisers, but an agency spokesman declined to say whether the disclosure program produced the information being shared by the US, Australia and the UK.

It is expected that this multilateral cooperation and coordinated effort will allow many countries to efficiently process this information and effectively enforce any laws that may have been broken. Increasingly, tax administrations are working together in this way to assist one another in identifying non-compliance with the tax laws.

U.S. taxpayers holding assets through offshore entities are encouraged to review their tax obligations with respect to these holdings, seek professional advice if necessary, and to participate in the IRS Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program where appropriate. Failure to do so may result in significant penalties and possibly criminal prosecution.

http://www.bignewsnetwork.com/index.php/sid/214434098/scat/9d7afd9766a94f28/ht/US-joins-UK-and-Australia-in-a-bid-to-expose-tax-cheats

Tax Free Offshore Banking Havens: Hidden Agenda behind Operation “Offshore Leaks”?

taxes
From the beginning of April this year, the subject of «Offshore leaks» has become a favourite with the world’s media. Even the issue of Cyprus has paled in significance. Loosely speaking, «Offshore leaks» can be defined as the leakage of sensitive information about offshore companies and their clients.

Offshore leaks is a planned operation

We are talking about a planned operation on a global scale. On 4 April, the leading media companies of a variety of countries almost simultaneously issued a sensational news story claiming that an organisation called the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) has a rich database on offshore companies and their clients. The overall volume of files at ICIJ’s disposal exceeds 260 gigabytes… That is 160 times more information than the embassy reports made public by Wikileaks in 2010… The ICIJ files consist of more than 2.5 million documents: the registration data of 122,000 offshore companies in the British Virgin Islands; lists of people who have made use of offshore companies; copies of personal documents including passports; correspondence; and information on banking transactions and other databases related to world-class politicians and businessmen, major companies and banks. The documents have a variety of dates, the very earliest of which came into existence 30 years ago. The names of 130,000 people from 170 countriesare also mentioned in the documents.

The first phase of the operation involved an anonymous person collecting raw data on offshore companies. We do not know how long they collected the information for or which methods were used to obtain the information. It is possible that the ICIJ and individual journalists know the answers to these questions, but they are keeping silent. They give one answer: we cannot jeopardise our informant. It should be noted, however, that it would have been practically impossible for a single person to have obtained such a large amount of information. Incidentally, the idea that it was a lone person has already appeared in the press. It is exactly the same wild assumption as the idea that 11 September 2001 was the work of a group of terrorists under the command of Bin Laden.

The second phase began in January 2012, when the database on offshore companies was anonymously passed on to the organisation ICIJ. It was a huge array of weakly-structured and weakly-organised information. In fact, the ICIJ then had to set about reorganising this half-finished information. At this stage, the ICIJ used the media capabilities of a number of countries, as well as their own journalists. The bulk of the work was carried out in the field. It turns out that the project’s most prominent external participants were the British Broadcasting Corporation and the British newspaper The Guardian. During the course of the work, journalists involved in the project added new information to the data obtained from the anonymous source. Programmers and IT specialists from the US, Great Britain and Costa Rica were also involved. At this stage, the operation was given the official name: «Secrecy For Sale: Inside The Global Offshore Money Maze». At this point, the work was not only not hidden, it was even advertised in the media. At the end of 2012, a tiny fragment from the database on offshore companies (DOC) was published which related to a dozen offshore companies and their management structures. It was an all-powerful delayed-action mine.

The third stage began early in April 2013. Separate fragments of the database were made public through the media of a variety of countries. In each country, there were several «authorised» media companies that were selected. In Russia, for example, the «authorised» media companies were Vedomosti and Novaya Gazeta. It is remarkable that as the organisation holding the DOC, the ICIJ prohibited those national media companies that had use of the DOC from passing on any of the database’s documents to law-enforcement agencies or other authoritative bodies in their own countries. Apparently, there is a risk that their informants could be exposed. There has already been a report that the German media refused to provide information on local tax evaders mentioned in the documents released at the beginning of April to the appropriate authorities of the Federal Republic of Germany.

The third stage, involving the measured release of information from the DOC, could last for many years. However, the first sections of this «explosive information» could already lead to a revolutionary upheaval of the current world order.

Offshore leaks: goals, aims and motives

Many people are asking a simple question: what are the operation’s goals? There is the official goal referred to by the ICIJ, of course. This is the battle with offshore companies that have become a «black hole» in the economy, an insurmountable obstacle to social and economic development. It is difficult to dispute the fact that the process of the «offshoreisation» of the global economy has gone too far. The most recent valuations of the assets hidden in the shadows of offshore companies are between 21 and 32 trillion dollars (almost double the global GDP). Measured on a global scale, annual losses to state budgets alone as a result of offshore company clients avoiding taxes amount to hundreds of billions of dollars. As of 2011, losses to the US budget from the non-payment of taxes are estimated at 345 billion dollars, including 100 billion dollars as a result of tax evaders using offshore companies. In the European Union, losses are reaching 1 trillion euros through the use of tax optimisation schemes and a flagrant refusal to pay taxes. It is not known how much of this can be put down to the use of offshore companies, however. On the basis of America’s percentage ratio, we get 290 billion euros, or at least 350 billion dollars. Altogether, annual tax losses to the EU and the US as a result of offshore «loopholes» amount to nearly 450 billion dollars.

Many believe that the battle with offshore companies is just an excuse to cover up other aims. An overview of the world’s media shows that in many of the reports, the main targets are not the offshore companies as such, but individual oligarchs, politicians and government officials. Individual countries are also cited as «targets». World-renowned banks, transnational corporations and financial groups are also sometimes cited.

One theory behind the operation’s true motives is that it is specifically aimed at dealing a blow to certain offshore companies in order to outrun the money and clients in a small group of «select» and «untouchable» offshore companies. Note that almost all of the documents in the DOC relate to an offshore territory called the British Virgin Islands (BVI). Owing to a high level of confidentiality regarding information on company owners, this area is one of the most reliable and popular offshore territories. Since 1984, when the British overseas territory declared itself a «tax haven», the islands have sold more than one million companies, the true owners of which have never been revealed. As well as the BVI, other offshore territories are mentioned in the ICIJ press release, including Singapore, Hong Kong and the Cook Islands. However, it should be emphasised that they are mentioned only insofar as they serve as «offshoots» of the British Virgin Islands.

There are also other theories behind the operation’s true goals: not to «blitz» a particular offshore company, but to stabilise the global economy as a whole, to cause a political crisis in certain countries and, ultimately, to move the world into a state of controlled chaos. Moreover, the operation «Offshore leaks» is not regarded as self-contained, but as part of a much larger, global plan. In which case, operation «Offshore leaks» is a logical continuation of the operation to undermine the banking system of the offshore island of Cyprus.

Of course, one can only judge the aims of operation «Offshore leaks» hypothetically. The most important organisation involved in the project, ICIJ, itself raises a number of questions. There is little information about it. All that is known is that it was established in 1997, its headquarters are situated in Washington and it includes nearly 160 journalists from 60 countries (88 journalists from 46 countries were involved in operation «Offshore leaks»).ICIJ was created as a project of the large non-profit organisation Center for Public Integrity (CPI). The Knight Foundation and the Ford Foundation act as sponsors of CPI. All of this inclines one to think that the operation really does have global aims.

The central characters of «Offshore leaks»

In the first batch of materials published in the media, we see all kinds of people. They are able to appear in the documents under a variety of titles: beneficiary, shareholder, proprietor, owner, recipient of «trust services», director, owner, co-owner, principal etc. They are all nevertheless united by the fact that they are «tax evaders». The list includes the names of politicians and government officials, businessmen and speculators, members of wealthy families and bankers from a variety of countries – the USA, Great Britain, France, Canada and Germany to Russia, the Ukraine, Mongolia, Azerbaijan, Venezuela, Iran, Indonesia, India and the Philippines. The Guardian points out that according to the documentation, the largest number of offshore company owners are located in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, the Russian Federation and former Soviet republics. The list also includes the names of 4,000 US citizens.

In connection with the offshore scandal, a number of people have had their cover blown in the press, including: the campaign treasurer for French President François Hollande, Jean-Jacques Augier; Mongolia’s former Finance minister, Bayartsogt Sangajav; Venezuela Army General José Eliécer Pinto Gutiérrez; two sons of former Colombian president Álvaro Uribe, Tomás and Geronimo; the daughter of former Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos, Maria Imelda Marcos Manotoc; the Sheikh of Kuwait Sabah Jaber al-Ali al-Sabah; a leading art collector, Spanish Baroness Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza; the former wife of oil trader Marc Rich, Denise Rich; and British millionaire Scot Young, who has been convicted of fraud. The media also mentioned Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev along with members of his family, Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, Kazakh businessman Mukhtar Ablyazov, and co-owner of the company RosUkrEnergo, Ukrainian businessman Dmitry Firtash.

As well as offshore companies and individuals, the documents also mentioned various intermediaries who act like a kind of «pilot» for individuals and companies who find themselves in the intricate maze of tax havens. The different intermediaries include legal firms, trust funds, banks, «construction» companies and so on. The intermediaries sometimes act as beneficiaries, but only interim ones. These interim beneficiaries sometimes form complex chains in order to safely keep the real owner, the ultimate beneficiary, a secret. As for the role of banks in offshore schemes, the German banking giant Deutsche Bank, the American company JP Morgan and the Swiss companies UBS and Clariden are the most active, according to ICIJ.

Several days have passed since the first volley of gunfire from «Offshore leaks». Government and political figures in a number of countries have had time to respond. The internal revenue services and law-enforcement agencies in Germany, Great Britain, Belgium, India and Greece have declared that they will be looking into the issue of checking the published facts that relate to their own citizens. Luxembourg’s finance minister, meanwhile, has declared that he is ready to cooperate with other EU countries regarding the exchange of information on banks’ clients who are avoiding paying taxes. This means that the main country for offshore banking in continental Europe has made it clear it is ready, on the heels of Switzerland, to begin dismantling its institution of banking secrecy. The Austrian government is the only one that has decided to go against the flow. It has appeased the clients of Austrian banks by announcing that it does not intend to hand them over to the tax authorities of other countries.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/tax-free-offshore-banking-havens-hidden-agenda-behind-operation-offshore-leaks/5331792

EU losses trillion euros annually due to tax evasion

European-Union-EU-flag
(Voice of Iraq) BRUSSELS (Reuters)
Said President of the European Council on Friday that tax evasion cause a loss of income of about one trillion euros a year in the European Union and EU leaders will discuss ways to remedy the problem at a summit meeting next month.

Herman said Van Rumbaa who presides over meetings of EU leaders in a statement posted on the internet “We must take advantage of the growing political momentum for the treatment of this critical problem.”

He added, “evasion injustice to the citizens who work hard and pay their share of taxes to the community. Injustice for companies to pay their taxes but find it difficult to compete because others do not pay.”

The message comes Van Rumbaa and add the issue to the agenda of the summit which will be held on 22 May to increase the pressure on Austria to agree with the rest of the countries of the European Union on the exchange of information on depositors in banks.

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Tax haven data leak names , raises questions about future of offshore bank accounts

taxman
PARIS – It’s a data leak involving tens of thousands of offshore bank accounts, naming dozens of prominent figures around the world. And new details are being released by the day — raising the prospect that accounts based on promises of secrecy and tax shelter could someday offer neither.

Among those named include a top campaign official in France, the ex-wife of pardoned oil trader Marc Rich, Azerbaijan’s ruling family, the daughter of Imelda Marcos and the late Baron Elie de Rothschild. The widespread use of offshore accounts among the wealthy is widely known — even Mitt Romney acknowledged stashing some of his millions in investments in the Cayman Islands. But this week’s leak, orchestrated by a Washington DC based-group called the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, appeared to be the broadest in what has been a steady stream of information emerging about hidden money in recent years amid a wave of anger targeting the super-rich in an age of austerity.

The leak allegedly involved records from 10 tax havens, where the world’s wealthy have long stashed funds. It uncovered a shadow network of empty holding companies and names essentially rented out to fill out boards of non-existent corporations, including a British couple listed as active in more than 2,000 entities, according to The Guardian newspaper, which participated in the global undertaking.

The project started with the receipt of a hard drive by an Australian journalist, Gerard Ryle, who took the data with him when he joined the consortium, according to the project’s website. The group, a project of the Washington-based Center for Public Integrity, has said the hard drive arrived in the mail, but did not specify its possible source or how it was authenticated. The consortium did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

Rudolf Elmer, who once ran the Caribbean operations of the Swiss bank Julius Baer and turned whistleblower after he was dismissed in 2002, told The Associated Press that he considers the data to be authentic.

“This comprehensive information is like a torch that will probably set off a wildfire and bring to light a lot more about secretive tax havens,” he said.

The secret bank accounts of the rich and powerful have recently come under a crush of whistle-blowing scrutiny.

France’s former budget minister, Jerome Cahuzac, was forced to resign last month week after a French investigative website unrelated to the latest leak revealed that he held offshore accounts — a particularly damaging scandal because he was spearheading a campaign against tax evasion. In 2010, a Greek journalist published a list of about 2,000 people holding undeclared Swiss bank accounts, disclosures that triggered a firestorm of outrage as Greeks were forced to swallow brutal austerity measures.

In November, an HSBC insider leaked a list of more than 8,000 customers with accounts based in Britain’s tiny Jersey Island, drawing an immediate tax investigation from Britain’s revenue and customs service. Two years before that, a former HSBC employee stole account details for 24,000 clients. Germany, eager to learn about its own tax cheats, promptly offered to buy the information.

“This just shows what we all know, which is that for decades we have seen the emergence of globalization on the one hand and governments that were unable to co-ordinate and co-operate on the other hand,” Pascal Saint-Amans, head of tax policy for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, said Friday.

There is nothing inherently illegal about opening bank accounts overseas, but it’s well known that the wealthy use them to avoid higher taxes at home — a practice that Saint-Amans said was quickly falling afoul of governments desperate for revenue, especially those suffering in the European financial crisis.

Britain has an outsized share of offshore territories, which include the British Virgin Islands, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands and the Channel Islands, whose 4 1/2 square miles (12 square kilometres) are saturated with current and former British company directors, according to The Guardian.

“Britain has this network of satellite tax havens around the world that have been acting as feeders,” said Nicholas Shaxon, author of the book Treasure Islands.

Shaxon said he was encouraged by the succession of whistleblowing employees over the years, and described the latest leak as the most significant to date.

“I hope this has created a new willingness among players who are inside the system to say ‘hang on, maybe this isn’t such a good thing.'” Shaxon said.

French President Francois Hollande, who has promised to clean up France’s finances, has had a particularly bad week when it comes to news about tax havens. No sooner had Cahuzac admitted lying about his offshore accounts than news emerged in the newspaper Le Monde that his former campaign treasurer, Jean-Jacque Augier, was a shareholder in two firms in the Cayman Islands, through a holding company.

Augier said he did nothing wrong. Cahuzac was felled by a recording of him talking about his accounts that was leaked to French website Mediapart.

The ICIJ consortium promised Friday to continue publishing details in coming week.

Tim Ridley, former chairman of the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority, warned against any satisfaction people may get from seeing the private banking information of the wealthy splashed across the Internet.

“Whatever may happen with offshore accounts today with everybody smiling about it could happen to onshore accounts in London or New York tomorrow,” Ridley said. “Normally people are entitled to information about their financial affairs or their medical affairs to be private.”

Ridley said there remained entirely legitimate reasons to set up accounts offshore, even for individuals, especially those from volatile countries: “Unstable governments have a habit of taking people’s money in unjustified circumstances.”

Shaxon was less concerned about the rights of wealthy individuals holding secret bank accounts.

“I don’t think we should be worried about the sensitivities of the poor banker and poor criminals whose criminal activities are being exposed,” he said. “If there are people who are doing nothing wrong and their information is being exposed, then it’s collateral. It’s a price to be paid.”

Both Ridley and Shaxon — coming from entirely opposite perspectives — agreed that the disclosures dented the world of offshore banking, but were hardly a fatal blow.

And experts say it will take years for current efforts against secrecy to fully take hold.

“It is ultimately public pressure that is going to make a difference here,” said Shaxon.

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Switzerland organize a referendum on the abolition of a special tax regime for wealthy foreigners

(Voice of Iraq) – ZURICH (Reuters)
Switzerland will organize a referendum on the abolition of the tax system has attracted rich foreign dignitaries such as Phil Collins and Michael Schumacher to live in the country.

The coalition of leftist parties and labor unions on Friday that he collected the necessary signatures to put the issue to a referendum and the 100 thousand signatures.They called the initiative “Enough tax breaks for millionaires.”

And Switzerland attracted more than 5,000 wealthy foreign tax agreements are based on the rental value of their property rather than actual income or wealth provided they do not work inside the country.

In addition to Schumacher Formula 1 racing driver and Phil Collins pop star attracted Switzerland singer Tina Turner and the richest foreigners at all Ingvar Kamprad founder of IKEA furniture stores, which came from Sweden in 1976.

And now have to discuss the government and parliament of this initiative before putting to a referendum, a discussion that could delay the referendum, but will not prevent the vote.

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