Tag Archives: Secession / Nullification

Gérard Depardieu says he will give up French passport over tax rises

open quoteGérard Depardieu has said he is handing back his French passport and social security card, lambasting the French government for punishing “success, creation, talent” in his homeland.

A popular and colourful figure in France, the 63-year-old actor is the latest wealthy Frenchman to seek shelter outside his native country by buying a house just over the border in Belgium in response to tax increases by the Socialist president, François Hollande.

The prime minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, described Depardieu’s behaviour as pathetic and unpatriotic at a time when the French are being asked to pay higher taxes to reduce a bloated national debt.

“Pathetic, you said pathetic? How pathetic is that?” Depardieu said in a letter to the weekly newspaper le Journal du Dimanche.

“I am leaving because you believe that success, creation, talent, anything different must be sanctioned,” he said.

An angry member of parliament has proposed that France adopt a US-inspired law that would force Depardieu or anyone trying to escape full tax dues to forgo their nationality.close quote (Read more)

IRS vs ex-pats

open quoteFatca calls for foreign financial institutions to file an annual report to the I.R.S., either directly or through its own national tax authority, on each U.S. taxpayer for whom it holds more than $50,000 in assets at the end of the year.close quote

This is why a friend in Singapore gave up his US citizenship. He couldn’t get any financial institution to do business with him. It’s also why some Swiss banks have dumped US clients.

open quoteThe law also requires account holders to file an I.R.S. form themselves, 8938, detailing their foreign holdings, though American expatriates need file only if their financial assets exceed $200,000 at year’s end. To make sure account holders stay in touch, the agency levies a $10,000 penalty for failure to file a required 8938, and any underreported income will be subject to an additional 40 percent penalty. close quote (Read more)

$200k — I aspire to have these problems. :)

Now many states want to secede from U.S.

open quoteSince WND first reported that residents in the state of Louisiana were petitioning to secede from the U.S., residents in over 30 more states have filed requests with the White House to peaceably break from the union.

Furthermore, the Louisiana petition has topped 27,000 signatures, exceeding the threshold needed after which the White House has pledged to respond.
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And for Texas, one of the new states to join the fray, the signature count now tops 60,000.

The White House’s We the People website explains that once a petition reaches 25,000 signatures, it will be placed on a queue for response from the administration. The website also maintains a page for previous petitions that have received a White House response.

Joining Louisiana now are Alaska, Utah, Wyoming, California, Delaware, Nevada, Kansas, Ohio, South Dakota, West Virginia, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Oklahoma, Arkansas, South Carolina, Georgia, Missouri, Tennessee, Michigan, New York, Colorado, Oregon, New Jersey, North Dakota, Montana, Indiana, Mississippi, Kentucky, Florida, North Carolina, Alabama and Texas.

The Louisiana petition, which has served as a pattern for many of the new states, reads as follows: “We petition the Obama administration to: Peacefully grant the State of Louisiana to withdraw from the United States of America and create its own NEW government.”

It continues, “As the Founding Fathers of the United States of America made clear in the Declaration of Independence in 1776: ‘When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.’”

The petition concludes with a further quote from the Declaration of Independence: “‘Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and institute new Government.’”close quote (Read more)

White House ‘secede’ petitions reach 675,000 signatures, 50-state participation

open quoteLess than a week after a New Orleans suburbanite petitioned the White House to allow Louisiana to secede from the United States, petitions from seven states have collected enough signatures to trigger a promised review from the Obama administration.

By 6:00 a.m. EST Wednesday, more than 675,000 digital signatures appeared on 69 separate secession petitions covering all 50 states, according to a Daily Caller analysis of requests lodged with the White House’s “We the People” online petition system.

A petition from Vermont, where talk of secession is a regular feature of political life, was the final entry.

Petitions from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas residents have accrued at least 25,000 signatures, the number the Obama administration says it will reward with a staff review of online proposals. (RELATED: Will Texas secede? Petition triggers White House review)

The Texas petition leads all others by a wide margin. Shortly before 9:00 a.m. EST Wednesday, it had attracted 94,700 signatures. But a spokesperson for Gov. Rick Perry said Tuesday afternoon that he does not support the idea of his state striking out on its own.close quote (Read more)

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The Showdowns that will define Europe’s future

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In today’s Telegraph, we argue:

‘It will not be the case that the south will get the so-called wealthy states to pay. Because then Europe would fall apart.” Thus spoke Horst Köhler, former German president, finance secretary and IMF head, almost two decades ago.

Köhler’s remarks are worth pondering. A series of multi-billion-euro bail-outs – and more to come – have now planted a north-south political divide at the heart of the European project. Taxpayers in Europe’s north resent underwriting their southern neighbours, while voters in the south are equally frustrated at having austerity imposed upon them from abroad. As has been noted repeatedly, this is the greatest tragedy of this crisis: a project that was meant to bring people together, now risks driving them further apart. Alas, events in the eurozone this autumn could further exacerbate this tension. There are at least five key stand-offs to watch over the next few months:

Greece v Germany: Greece managed narrowly to escape running out of money today by raising almost 4 billion euros in short-term debt. But Athens will face an excruciating autumn. On almost every count, Greece is miles away from meeting its EU-mandated austerity targets, which raises the questionof whether Germany – or the IMF – will pull the plug on the country in October when its next progress report is due.

Though there is still scope for muddling through, almost any outcome will lead to rising political tensions. If Germany sticks to its guns, the popular disillusion in Greece will grow massively. If Berlin gives in, it faces a serious backlash from the country’s public – a majority of which wants to kick Greece out.

Spain v the North: Amid continued problems, Spain could possibly request EU cash as early as September. But the country is simply too big for a Greece-style bail-out, while Madrid would not accept having its economic policies fully decided in Brussels and Berlin. Instead a third way must be found involving less money and softer conditions, probably with heavy and controversial ECB involvement. The North will dislike such an arrangement – particularly cheap ECB money going to Spain – but may give in for fear of worse.

The bail-out funds v national democracy: On September 12, Germany’s constitutional court will rule on whether the eurozone’s permanent bail-out fund – the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) – is compatible with the country’s “basic law’, following a host of complaints. Though unlikely, should it strike it down, the markets will go absolutely crazy. Regardless, the ruling will leave a bad taste in Germany and shows how the ESM is becoming an increasingly toxic issue, with southern and northern politicians disagreeing fundamentally on its size and whether it should be given a direct credit line to the ECB.

The Dutch v Europe: September 12 will also see another example of national democracy reasserting itself: the Dutch elections. Geert Wilders, leader of the super-populist PVV, is seeking to turn the campaign into a referendum on Europe, hoping to tap into the Dutch anti-bail-out mood. At the same time, the Dutch socialists – currently leading in the polls – have vowed to resist both the EU fiscal treaty and further transfers of power to the EU without approval in referendums. A divided Dutch parliament and more assertive government will almost certainly make eurozone politics even more complicated.

Germany v France: This autumn will also see negotiations over whether the eurozone will take the next big leap towards an economic union, with an October EU summit tasked with providing a “road map” for more integration. Ideas include a banking union (with a single supervisor and joint backstop) and collective government borrowing in the form of eurobonds. The issues are tremendously complicated, subject to a cobweb of disagreements and will take years to clear away. But importantly, this could widen the gap between Germany and France, with the two disagreeing fundamentally on the order of events. Berlin wants a political union first, meaning greater German control over others’ finances in return for underwriting them – while Paris wants to press ahead with stronger bail-out mechanisms, via the ECB and others, leaving the oversight for later. The Franco-German axis is not about to break, but maintaining it will become increasingly difficult.

So how should Britain respond to all of this? Simple: try to control what it can control and leave the rest behind. The UK is right to seek to buffer up against a potential euro meltdown. It is also right to look for ways to ensure that further eurozone integration – such as a banking union – is not detrimental to Britain or the single market. But the UK government needs to stop giving unwelcome advice on the need to turn the eurozone into a “debt union” or for the ECB to start spraying the Continent with cheap money – both options effectively involving Angela Merkel completely running over her own voters.

The eurozone crisis has unleashed some seriously unpredictable political forces. EU leaders may have to choose between maintaining the euro and maintaining national democracy as we know it. In either case, we have no idea how voters – in the North and South alike – will respond.close quote (Read more)

Jury Nullification In New Hampshire Becomes Reality

This is HUGE! I’m tempted to move to New Hampshire.

open quoteFor those of you who don’t know much about jury nullification, basically it’s when the jury finds a defendant innocent because of their dislike of the law. For example, a jury might refuse to convict a non-violent drug offender because they disagree with the fundamental premise of drug laws themselves.

Throughout the United States, judges have forbidden defense attorneys from informing juries that they have a right to nullify the law based on their dislike of the law. In California for example, jurors are required to inform on other jurors if one of them argues that the law is bad. The judge will then replace that juror with an alternate. A defense attorney who argues on grounds of nullification could face disbarment or other sanctions by the court, even though nullification is a right all U.S. jurors poses under common law.

On June 18, New Hampshire Governor John Lynch signed HB 146, which reads:

“[A] Right of Accused. In all criminal proceedings the court shall permit the defense to inform the jury of its right to judge the facts and the application of the law in relation to the facts in controversy.”

I have the feeling this New Hampshire law will end up having a tremendous effect on the American judicial system as a whole.close quote (Read more)

U.S. erects prison walls as Facebook entrepreneur gives us citizenship

I really liked Steffen Molynieux’s observation that these actions totally blow away all that bullshit about a social contract. Leftists like to say, if you don’t like it, leave. But now the government says, you can’t!

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open quoteInternet message boards bristled with denunciations of Saverin’s “treachery” and promises to renounce Facebook. “Way to defriend America, [expletive deleted],” one annoyed American taxpayer tweeted. Another Twitterer, who happened to be outspoken rich guy Marc Cuban, told his followers that “if i could realistically stop using facebook, … I would. Just wrong.”

(MORE: This is your Life (According to Your New Timeline))

The story behind Saverin’s move is a little more complicated than the headlines suggest. The Brazilian-born, Singapore-based investor with the cherub face was one of Mark Zuckerberg’s original backers during Facebook’s Harvard days; while no longer involved in the company as an executive, he retains a 4% stake, which could be worth as much as $4 billion after Facebook goes public.

There’s no question that by giving up his American citizenship and settling down in Singapore, an investor-friendly tax haven with no capital gains taxes, he’ll spare himself a hefty bill from Uncle Sam. He’s not going to escape the IRS entirely, though; the US charges citizenship-renouncers an “exit tax” which could add up to as much as $150 million in his case, one tax expert contacted by the Los Angeles Times estimates.

Saverin maintains that his renunciation of American citizenship, which actually took place last September, wasn’t a ploy to skip out on American taxes, but rather an attempt to free himself from burdensome restrictions on American investors abroad. “U.S. citizens are severely restricted as to what they can invest in and where they can maintain accounts,” the Wall Street Journal quotes a spokesman for Saverin saying. “Many foreign funds and banks won’t accept Americans. This was a financial rather than a tax motive.”close quote (Read more)

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open quoteIlyse Hogue of The Nation is incensed:

In making this decision, the Brazilian native did more than expose his blind disregard for all that his adopted country has done for him. He has made himself the poster child for the callous class of 1 percenters who are all too happy to use national resources to enrich themselves, and then skate, or cry foul, when asked to pay their fair share. The story evokes the image of the marauding aliens from the movie Independence Day, who come to Earth to take what they can get before moving on to another planet.

Wait a second! Did Eduardo Saverin plunder us? Are we now a desolate husk of a country, sucked dry by Eduardo Saverin’s rapine? Well, no. Facebook created wealth. Mr Saverin is leaving having deployed his capital in a manner that made America better off than it was when he arrived. But will he escape without rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar’s? Well, no. Both Mr Manjoo and Ms Hogue mumble in passing under their breath while coughing that Mr Saverin will have to pony up an “exit tax”. So what’s this woefully insufficient tribute come to, such that Mr Saverin may be so bitterly denounced for exploitation and despoilment? According to Danielle Kucera, Sanat Vallikappen and Christine Harper of Bloomberg:

Saverin won’t escape all U.S. taxes. Americans who give up their citizenship owe what is effectively an exit tax on the capital gains from their stock holdings, even if they don’t sell the shares, said Reuven S. Avi-Yonah, director of the international tax program at the University of Michigan’s law school. For tax purposes, the IRS treats the stock as if it has been sold.

Got that? Mr Saverin’s on the hook for the amount his capital-gains tax would have come to had he sold all his American stock holdings. Tim Worstall sketches it out on his napkin:

[T]he net effect of his citizenship renunciation on his immediate tax bill is to increase it, hugely. For it will, at minimum, start with the idea that he’s just made a $3.5 billion or so profit (adjusted downwards for the difference between the private market value of Facebook last fall and the IPO price) on his Facebook stock which he got originally for minimal amounts of money. At the standard 15% long term capital gains rate that’s near $500 million right there.

Half a billion dollars! That is not scot-free. Did the marauding aliens in “Independence Day” leave behind a half billion American dollars after having successfully invested in Earth? They did not! One wonders how many pounds of flesh Mr Manjoo and Ms Hogue think Mr Saverin owes for the privilege of having Uncle Sam’s hooks out once and for all.close quote

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Senator Charles Schumer: Eduardo Saverin Can Never Set Foot in U.S.

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Ron Paul: The Egregious Ex-Patriot Act Has No Place in a Free Society