An international collaboration between news organisations revealed some dark secrets of fiscal “optimisation” practiced by multinationals and the super-rich. In France, €20 billion escape income tax, and that’s a conservative estimate. That’s four times the shortfall in the social security budget.
A world tour of tricks
It’s hard to find a multinational without an offshore subsidiary. Apple moves two thirds of its profits to Ireland, where it is exempt from corporate tax; Nike saves €1 billion through the Netherlands; Facebook transfers its profits to the Cayman Islands; Whirlpool shuffles its profits between its offshore subsidiaries while closing factories; Renault, PSA and Auchan have saved €62, €57, and €22 millions, respectively, through Malta… Many small and medium size businesses are starting, too, as well as the rich. From Bernard Arnault to Queen Elisabeth to 13 of Trump’s close relations, including ministers and advisors… The whole bourgeoisie uses tax havens to avoid paying taxes.
But rest assured: “It’s all perfectly legal”, say the multinationals. You just need to have an army of lawyers and fiscal optimisation experts.
Some kind souls, embarrassed, add that it’s legal but immoral. In other words, the bourgeois law and justice are immoral. We had already guessed it, but if they admit it, it must be true!
States are pushing this even further by rewarding the multinationals that use “optimisation”, by offering all kinds of tax exemptions to improve their so-called “competitiveness”. Anything to help the rich in dire straits. As Alphonse Allais, a French 19th century satirist said: “Take the money where it is: with the poor. True, they don’t have much, but they are so numerous!” So, to help the exploiters, the government makes cuts on hospital services, schools, the mail, doesn’t maintain the railways, and adds more “Work laws” that take away job security and put workers into poverty.
That’s how the political system is remodelled to make each country a paradise for the exploiters.
Fiscal paradise and social hell
Some rulers in France and abroad pretend to be outraged. But Macron is not embarrassed, and he’s inflicting a whole “economic patriotism” programme to be paid by the taxpayers: replacing the wealth tax with a flat rate withholding on capital gains, decrease in corporate tax rate coming after the hundreds of billions already gifted to companies since Hollande’s competitiveness tax breaks. A perfectly legal programme that makes France a great tax haven. At the same time, €5 billions haven’t been paid to recipients of the earned income supplement, but these people have no advisors to assert their rights.
How do we stop this?
Offshore trusts and tax havens are parts of capitalism’s basic apparatus. How can we end them? If it’s not about what’s legal but about social justice, then we have to impose another kind of law to the 1%, our law. That means a social revolution. And it’s high time to put it on the working class’ agenda.
For now, for us who cannot afford a team of fiscal optimisation experts and only have our job to live on, there is only our anger, which is still not expressed enough, or only through scattered fights.
But before we can organise and bring our fights together, we still have opportunities to express our anger in the streets: during the next interprofessional day of action, called on by the unions CGT, FO, Solidaires, and FSU, on November 16th.