At a meeting with Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker during yesterday’s NATO summit, Donald Trump reportedly said “the Germans are bad, very bad” for selling millions of cars to the US. That comment, directed at a supposed NATO ally, is damaging enough. But when it hit the press last night, it was mangled into something … More The perils of translation
Following reports of last week’s Juncker/May dinner (see Monday’s blog), there has been renewed interest in Angela Merkel’s speech to the German Parliament (Bundestag) the day after. So I’ve translated it in full below. The bits I’ve highlighted in bold are particularly striking in relation to Brexit. But the speech – quite short by Merkel’s … More Merkel’s 27 April speech to the Bundestag: full translation
Last Wednesday, 26 April, Theresa May invited Michel Barnier and Jean-Claude Juncker to dinner at No.10. Tim Shipman’s report (May is living in another galaxy) in yesterday’s Sunday Times gave an insight into some of what went on and is well worth a read (I downloaded without £). But the full horror becomes apparent in … More The Brexit dinner: delusion at every course
Last week I joined my piano teacher, Sebastian Stanley, at the beautiful Rosslyn Hill chapel in Hampstead to record some piano videos. The immediate purpose was to submit the recordings for an amateur piano competition, but I decided to put some of them together into a micro-recital for the blog. You can view this as … More Micro-recital for Europe
Back in 1988, the economist Larry Summers explained why the US had no VAT: ”Liberals think it’s regressive and conservatives think it’s a money machine. If they reverse their positions, the VAT may happen.” Nearly 30 years later, the US still doesn’t have a VAT. But recent tax reform proposals by the Republican party would bring … More US tax reform: badly needed, but is the destination right?
My EU-flag cushion is finished at last. I’ve spent the last couple of days frantically sewing it together, in a race against Parliament to ensure it’s ready by the time Theresa May triggers Article 50. Don’t ask me to explain why, but it makes me feel slightly better equipped to face the political chaos in … More Knitting for Europe (or Woolly Surds)
One answer to that question might be “when it’s a probate fee”. The government has announced a new regime for probate fees, linked to the value of estates, which will replace the current fixed fee from May this year. Instead of the current £215 (or £155 through a solicitor), executors will pay on a sliding … More When is a tax not a tax?
At the Autumn Statement in November, the Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR) seemed to betray a certain frustration with the lack of information available about the government’s plans for Brexit. As I noted in my blog, flagging up a change in the OBR’s remit, the OBR confessed in its Economic and Fiscal Outlook (EFO) to … More The dog that didn’t bark in the Budget
The government’s response to the consultation on “Making Tax Digital” – requiring businesses to keep digital records and make quarterly updates to HMRC – was published this week, together with draft legislation. But, rather like Theresa May at a press conference, the government doesn’t answer some of the big questions. Businesses, agents and rep bodies … More Making Tax Digital: fundamental questions remain unanswered
Last Thursday’s FT carried an intriguing story about a German tax avoidance scheme with €billions at stake: the so-called “cum-cum” dividend-stripping device. While we generally think of the Germans as highly disciplined, this looked like an example of complete chaos. And the aggressive artificiality of the scheme took me back to the dark ages of … More Scandal in Frankfurt: tax avoidance pays dividends for German banks