Archive for June, 2017

Federal Opposition hounds Treasurer over appointment to RBA board, Gerard resigns

Friday, June 30th, 2017

Friday, December 2, 2005 The Australian Federal Opposition has hounded the Treasurer, Peter Costello, over the appointment of Robert Gerard to the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) board. Mr Gerard announced on Friday 2nd that he will resign from the Board, citing the events of this week as the reason.

On Tuesday, November 29, Wayne Swan, the Shadow Treasurer asked of Costello in the first question of Question Time about an apparent statement that Costello made to Gerard, namely, “I know there’s an issue with the Tax Office but I don’t have a problem with you on the board”. Costello responded that he had no problem with Gerard, noting that “he brings a great understanding of Australian manufacturing industry to the board”, and that the obligatory declaration of interest was “indeed was signed by Mr Gerard”.

Later it was said by Swan in the House of Representatives that Gerard’s company was using “tax havens as tax avoidance schemes to the value of $150 million” and that the declaration of interest mentioned was only in regard to his personal affairs and on asking the Treasurer when he knew this, claimed that him actually knowing the information “would breach the secrecy act”. Later Swan revealed that Gerard “and his corporate vehicles” have been “susbtantial donors” to the Liberal Party. Costello maintained that the Government “[does] not think that supporting the Liberal Party is a disqualification from holding ministerial office, prime ministerial office, Treasury office or other offices in Australia”

Swan moved a censure motion to “provide this House with a full and proper explanation of…his communications with Mr Robert Gerard…and his knowledge of Mr Robert Gerard’s dispute with the Australian Taxation Office…”, which failed in the Government’s favour with votes 83 to 59 in division.

On Wednesday, November 30, Swan opened the House in a movement to suspend standing orders again to get information from the Treasurer, stating that “The Treasurer is in real strife” before the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer moved the gag. In Question Time, the Opposition continued to ask every question in regard to the appointment of Gerard. The Leader of the Opposition Kim Beazley revealed in his question to the Treasurer that “some of his cabinet colleagues have privately said that they did not consider Mr Gerard was ‘a good choice’ in the first place for the Reserve Bank board”. The Treasurer responded that Gerard’s “appointment was supported by all members of the cabinet”

In the subsequent Matters of Public Importance debate, the matter selected was that proposed by Wayne Swan, namely, “The need for the Treasurer to uphold the highest standards of probity in the selection of candidates for the Reserve Bank Board.”

On Thursday, December 1, the Opposition again reserved a number of its questions for inquiring about Gerard’s appointment. Swan revealed in a question to the Treasurer that Gerard Corporation had “acquired an investment company in the tax haven of the British Virgin Islands eight months after the Treasurer recommended his appointment to the Reserve Bank board”. Costello responded to Swan referring him to “a statement about that allegation in the Australian Financial Review today…in which he makes it clear that no income has been derived.”

Later, the Leader of the Opposition tried to move a censure motion on the treasurer, but leave of the House was not granted, so he had to resort to moving a motion to suspend standing orders to move the same motion, to censure the Treasurer for his appointment. The motion failed due to Government numbers, but the Matters for Public Importance (which follows Question Time) which was selected as “The need for the Government to govern for all Australians not just a privileged few.” in order to draw a comparison with the unequal treatment of the Treasurer in supporting Gerard and the new industrial relations legislation, dubbed WorkChoices, and said how the Treasurer and the Prime Minister were “laughing up their sleeves”, that the Treasurer was “not fit to lead”, and Gerard “is the worst attendee on the Reserve Bank board.”

The Minister for Workplace Relations, Kevin Andrews, however focused elsewhere on the MPI, and drew the attention of the Australian Labor Party‘s ties to the unions, had described the Opposition as a “policy free zone”, said that “there is one group that represents privilege in this place and that is the Australian Labor Party”, and stressed the benefits of WorkChoices.

Craig Emerson noted that the Queensland branch of the Liberal Party participated in “deliberate tax evasion”, and that Mr Gerard “paid penalty tax in circumstances of deliberate tax evasion”. Emerson later said that the Liberal Party was “soft on tax cheats”, “soft on tax cheating Liberal Party donors…and members”.

The adjournment debate also brought up criticism of Gerard’s appointment in the adjournment debate. Christopher Bowen noted the “disquiet” in the media, and noted the previous Board member Bernie Fraser also calling for his dismissal. Bernard Ripoll called for a “full inquiry” into the Government’s “self serving public policy”.

Swan has said that Gerard had done the “honourable thing”, but that he will not let up on pressing the Treasurer for a full disclosal of the facts.

The House of Representatives as of this date sits next on December 5, 2005.

UK government announces cut in VAT

Friday, June 30th, 2017

Monday, November 24, 2008

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Photograph: Lee Jordan

The UK Government has announced that it is cutting the rate of Value Added Tax (VAT) by 2.5 percentage points, to 15%, in a move to get consumers spending again.

This move, along other tax cuts, is going to require the government to increase borrowing to record levels, according to experts cited by BBC News.

Gordon Brown, the UK Prime Minister, has stated, “I don’t see this as a gamble, I see this as necessary, responsible action, that any sensible government would want to take.”

“Those people who say do nothing now, would leave people, as in the 1980s and 1990s, without hope that their mortgage problems could be sorted out, or their jobs problems could be sorted out,” he continued in a discussion on BBC television programme “The Politics Show“. “It would be lacking in compassion, as well as irresponsible, in my view.”

David Cameron, the leader of the opposition, has expressed his concern over the move. “I think people are going to be shocked tomorrow [Today] when they see the extent of government borrowing,” he said yesterday, before the move was official. “Maybe £80bn this year, before the recession’s even properly started, and possibly over £100bn next year. And next year that is over £4,000 extra for every family in the country.”

“So I do have a real concern about a government going on a borrowing binge that even they are now admitting is going to lead to much higher taxes later.”

In his statement announcing the move, Alistair Darling, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, has admitted that the national debt will go up from 2.8% to 4.4% over the next year, although he stated that these changes were necessary to avoid a recession.

The move, which will come into effect next Monday, will last until the end of next year, and Darling stated that it will cost the government £12.5 billion. This was announced as part of the 2008 pre-budget report.

Vince Cable, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, also commented on the tax cut. “A big tax cut’s desirable, that’s certainly the case. And a VAT cut would act very quickly, which is positive,” he stated. “But we prefer a different approach which is more targeted on people who really need it. And we believe that people on low incomes, low wages should get an income tax cut – lifting thresholds or reducing the rate. And that’s a much better way of concentrating resources where it needs it.”

15% percent is the lowest rate of VAT permitted by the European Union.

Canada’s Parkdale—High Park (Ward 13) city council candidates speak

Friday, June 30th, 2017
This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.

Monday, October 30, 2006

On November 13, Torontoians will be heading to the polls to vote for their ward’s councillor and for mayor. Among Toronto’s ridings is Parkdale—High Park (Ward 13). Two candidates responded to Wikinews’ requests for an interview. This ward’s candidates include Linda Coltman, David Garrick, Greg Hamara, Aleksander Oniszczak, Bill Saundercook (incumbent), and Frances Wdowczyk.

For more information on the election, read Toronto municipal election, 2006.

Ontario Votes 2007: Interview with Freedom Party candidate David McGruer, Ottawa-Orleans

Friday, June 30th, 2017

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

David McGruer is running for the Freedom Party of Ontario in the Ontario provincial election, in the Ottawa-Orleans riding. Wikinews’ Nick Moreau interviewed him regarding his values, his experience, and his campaign.

Stay tuned for further interviews; every candidate from every party is eligible, and will be contacted. Expect interviews from Liberals, Progressive Conservatives, New Democratic Party members, Ontario Greens, as well as members from the Family Coalition, Freedom, Communist, Libertarian, and Confederation of Regions parties, as well as independents.

Canada’s Toronto—Danforth (Ward 30) city council candidates speak

Friday, June 30th, 2017

Saturday, November 4, 2006

On November 13, Toronto residents will be heading to the polls to vote for their ward’s councillor and for mayor. Among Toronto’s ridings is Toronto Centre (Ward 28). One candidate responded to Wikinews’ requests for an interview. This ward’s candidates include Edward Chin, Paula Fletcher (incumbent), Patrick Kraemer, Suzanne McCormick, Daniel Nicastro, and Michael Zubiak.

For more information on the election, read Toronto municipal election, 2006.

Ontario Votes 2007: Interview with Freedom Party candidate David McGruer, Ottawa-Orleans

Thursday, June 29th, 2017

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

David McGruer is running for the Freedom Party of Ontario in the Ontario provincial election, in the Ottawa-Orleans riding. Wikinews’ Nick Moreau interviewed him regarding his values, his experience, and his campaign.

Stay tuned for further interviews; every candidate from every party is eligible, and will be contacted. Expect interviews from Liberals, Progressive Conservatives, New Democratic Party members, Ontario Greens, as well as members from the Family Coalition, Freedom, Communist, Libertarian, and Confederation of Regions parties, as well as independents.

Evangelist Kent Hovind’s tax trial begins

Thursday, June 29th, 2017

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Evangelist Kent Hovind and his wife, Jo, are trying to convince a federal jury that their money from video and amusement park admission sales belong to God and cannot be taxed. The trial began at United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida on Tuesday October 18, 2006 after twelve jury members and two alternates were selected to decide on the 58 federal courts against Hovind and his wife. The trial was expected to take at least two weeks to complete with the prosecution hoping to rest its case Tuesday, but a defense attorney became ill and the Judge delayed the trial until October 30th.

Hovind is a Young Earth creationist who does many speaking engagements and debates. He also sells videos giving a pro-creationism perspective, which he receives income for. Hovind, who calls himself “Dr. Dino”, received a Ph.D in “Christian education” from the unaccredited correspondence school Patriot Bible University in 1991.

Contents

  • 1 Charges
  • 2 Government witnesses
  • 3 Hovind’s employees
  • 4 Pensacola Christian College
  • 5 IRS and ‘beating the system’
  • 6 Related news
  • 7 Sources

Prosecutor Michelle Heldmeyer said from 1999 to March 2004, the Hovinds took in more than $5 million. Heldmeyer charged Hovind on 12 counts for failing to pay about $470,000 in federal income, Social Security and Medicare taxes for his ministry employees between March 31, 2001, and Jan. 31, 2004. Counts 13 through 57 include Hovind’s wife for making 45 transactions in a little more than a year, sometimes taking out as much as $9,500 at a time. Banks are required to report cash withdrawals that exceed $10,000.

In count 58 against Kent includes filing a frivolous lawsuit against the IRS, demanding damages for criminal trespass, filing an injunction against an IRS agent, making threats against investigators and those cooperating with the investigation, and filing false complaints against the IRS for false arrest, excessive use of force and theft.

In July with his attorney, Public Defender Kafahni Nkrumah, Hovind stated that he did not recognize the government’s right to try him on tax-fraud charges.

This is not the first time Hovind has found himself in legal trouble. In 2002 he refused to get a $50.00 building permit for his Dinosaur Adventure Land, and after three years of legal battles the court ruled that he get a permit or the building would be razed. The park, which depicts dinosaurs as coexisting with humans in the last 6-4,000 years with the more recent “dinosaurs” being the Loch Ness monster, is reportedly open after Hovind paid for the permit and fines totaling $10,402.64.

More directly, M.C. Powe, an IRS officer who investigates people who have unpaid tax returns or unpaid tax liabilities, testified at Hovind’s current trial on October, 19, 2006 that she first attempted to collect taxes from the Hovinds in 1996. She noted Hovind tried several “bullying tactics” that included suing her at least three times. These resulted in each case being thrown out.

Wikisource has original text related to this article:

Assistant U.S. Attorney Benjamin Beard handled Hovind’s bankruptcy in 1996 testified on Wednesday that in 1996 after Hovind’s vehicles were seized by the IRS, he filed under the Chapter 13 “wage-earner plan,” available only to those who have a regular source of income. However, Hovind wrote that he had no form of income, that he rejected his Social Security number and that his employer was God, Beard testified.

In a 2005 affidavit, the Hovinds argue that Social Security is essentially a “Ponzi scheme.” The Hovinds referred to the United States Government as “the ‘bankrupt’ corporate government” and said they were renouncing their United States citizenship and Social Security numbers to become “a natural citizen of ‘America’ and a natural sojourner.”

Wikisource has original text related to this article:

On Thursday an employee of AmSouth Bank explained that the Currency Transaction Reports requires the bank to report any time a cash amount of $10,000 or more is withdrawn or deposited. This employee noted that various records demonstreated Jo Hovind had made transactions up to $15,000 at a time.

Also on Thursday Hovind’s former neighbor testified regarding Hovind’s purchasing of her Palafox Street home. On the stand she said Hovind paid her $30,000 in cash as part of the $155,000 sale.

In this week’s trial two of Hovind’s workers testified in federal court that they didn’t consider where they worked to be a church. In court Hovind maintains he does not have to pay the taxes because his employees were “volunteers,” “missionaries” or “ministers” and his business was a ministry.

However, Brian Popp, Hovind’s employee for at least eight years, said he considered himself a minister at the time of his employment, but said Hovind’s ministry isn’t a church. Popp also testified that Hovind knew about the bank’s requirement to report transactions over $10,000 and said it was “not safe to carry large sums of cash.”

Further, Popp said Hovind told his workers not to accept mail addressed to “KENT HOVIND” because Hovind told the workers the government created a corporation in his “all-caps name” and if the mail was accepted, Hovind claimed, it would be accepting the responsibilities associated with that corporation.

Diane P. Cooksey, served as a sales representative for the ministry from January 2003 to June 2005, and said Hovind expected to pay her own taxes. Cooksey said, “He explained what his belief was, right up front in the interview, that I would pay my own taxes.” As told’s worker, she received $10 an hour in a weekly paycheck, punched a time clock, was given 10 paid vacation days a year, and considered herself an employee, not a missionary as a few others called themselves.

The IRS raided Hovind’s Dinosaur Adventure Land in April 2004, after which Hovind required his employees to sign nondisclosure agreements. “I was uncomfortable signing it, I guess, because of not having a full understanding,” Cooksey said.

Rebekah Horton, vice president of the unaccredited Pensacola Christian College, took the stand on the second day of the trial and testified that “We know the Scriptures do not promote (tax evasion)”. “It’s against Scripture teaching.”

Horton was given a videotape in the mid 1990s from a woman who worked for Hovind. The video contained “another evangelist advocating tax evasion,” Horton explained. The woman who gave the tape to Horton claimed Hovind’s philosophy as “You were giving a gift with your work, and they were giving a gift back to you.”

Pensacola Christian College decided to disallow its students from working with Hovind’s Creation Science Evangelism and reported Hovind’s scheme to the IRS.

On Friday, attorney David Charles Gibbs testified that Hovind claimed he had no obligation to pay employee income taxes and explained with “a great deal of bravado” how he had “beat the tax system.” Gibbs is an attorney with the Gibbs Law Firm, also is affiliated with the Christian Law Association, a nonprofit organization founded by his father that offers free legal help to churches nationwide in a suburb of St. Petersburg, Florida. Gibbs attended the Marcus Pointe Baptist Church when Hovind was a guest speaker at the church on October 17, 2004. Hovind invited Gibbs and others to Hovind’s home for pizza and soda.

Gibbs testified they talked for many hours, and Hovind “tried to stress to me that he was like the pope and this was like the Vatican.” Also Gibbs explained Hovind also told him he preferred to deal in cash because “dealing with cash there is no way to trace it, so it wasn’t taxable.”

Wikisource has original text related to this article:

Later on Friday, Special IRS Agent Scott Schneider took up the remainder of the day and is expected to resume Monday. Schneider told the jury his investigation revealed that Hovind “hadn’t filed tax returns ever, to my knowledge.”

Hovind tried suing the IRS and Schneider several times to avoid providing information required by the IRS. Each filing was thrown out by the judges.

Schneider’s discussed documents seized during the 2004 raid of Hovind’s property. These documents, Schneider explained, indicated Hovind ran his ministry as a business with “meticulous” payroll documents and a time clock employees had to punch in and out.

In the raid cash was found “all over the place.” Ultimately, $42,000 in cash was seized along with half-dozen guns (including a SKS semiautomatic) at the Hovinds’ home.

The Pensacola News Journal noted that “in one memo, Jo Hovind informed her daughter, who works at the park, that her pay would be docked $10 for talking too long on the telephone when she should have been working.”

EPA block massive West Australian energy project

Thursday, June 29th, 2017

Wednesday, June 7, 2006

The Western Australian (WA) Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has advised against the massive Greater Gorgon liquefied natural gas project off WA’s Pilbara coast. Proponents of the projects say Gorgon is one of Australia’s biggest export ventures, scheduled to provide up to 6,000 jobs and exports of up to $1.2 billion.

EPA chairman Dr Wally Cox said the Gorgon project operators (Chevron, ExxonMobil, and Shell), had made an effort on flora and fauna issues but in its present state, the Gorgon proposal was “unacceptable.” Gorgon LNG general manager Colin Beckett said that Gorgon was a world-class gas field and that the joint venture partners were confident that the decision would be reversed.

Environment Minister Mark McGowan said there was a definite process to be followed. The Minister says he will make a final decision on the Gorgon proposal after considering the EPA report – and any subsequent report from the Appeals Convenor. The EPA recommendations on the Gorgon proposal are subject to a two-week appeals period.

The EPA’s Dr Cox said that joint venture had “not been able to demonstrate that impacts from dredging, the introduction of non-indigenous species and the potential loss of fauna could be reduced to acceptable levels.”

In September 2003 the WA government provided “in-principle agreement” to the Gorgon joint venturers subject to a number of conditions. Dr Cox said that the Environmental Review and Management Programme had further highlighted the terrestrial and marine conservation values of Barrow Island and the adjacent waters.

Flatback turtles in particular would be put at risk from the proposal with two of the most important nesting beaches located adjacent to the proposed LNG processing plant site and the materials off-loading facility,” Dr Cox said. “There is very little science available on the life-cycle, behaviour and feeding habits of Flatback turtles and as a consequence it is not possible at this time to identify management measures that would ensure ongoing survival of this Pilbara Flatback turtle population.”

Dr Cox also said that the Proponent had not been able to demonstrate that risk could be reduced to satisfactory levels in the areas of: Impacts on the marine ecosystem from dredging; The introduction of non-indigenous species; Potential loss of subterranean and short range endemic invertebrate fauna species. “As a result, the proposal in its present form cannot meet the EPA’s environmental objectives and is considered environmentally unacceptable,” Dr Cox said.

Anti-tax tea parties held across the USA

Thursday, June 29th, 2017

Friday, April 17, 2009

Anti-tax anti-spending rallies called Tea Parties took place across the United States Wednesday. The rallies were held in various locations from Boston, Massachusetts to San Francisco, California.

Wednesday was chosen by organizers as it is the federal income tax filing deadline, as well as the deadline for many states. The rallies were named after the Boston Tea Party, a 1773 pre-American Revolution event protesting taxation without representation.

Organizers indicated that Tea Parties took place at more than 850 locations, with a combined total of 750,000 to over 1 million attendees. The Americans for Tax Reform has tallied 242 locations with around 299,071 attendees.

In Washington, D.C., several thousand protesters demonstrated outside the White House about taxes and excess spending by the national government. The Secret Service stopped the rally after a suspicious package was tossed over the White House fence. With the area cleared, a bomb squad robot inspected the package that turned out to be a box of tea bags. The area was reopened.

Non-profit ACORN plans to shut down

Thursday, June 29th, 2017

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

File:ACORN logo.png

The US community organizing group Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) will end its operations due to dwindling funds. The group said in a statement that it would close most of its field offices by April 1.

The heads of the organization said in a joint statement that “ACORN’s members have a great deal to be proud of—from promoting homeownership to helping rebuild New Orleans, from raising wages to winning safer streets, from training community leaders to promoting voter participation—ACORN members have worked hard to create stronger communities, a more inclusive democracy, and a more just nation.”

The group, founded in 1970, played a prominent role in the 2008 US presidential elections, as it conducted many voter registration drives and fundraising for then-Senator Barack Obama, among other Democratic candidates. The organization first became scrutinized during the 2006 mid-term elections, when some of its employees were accused of voter fraud. Matters got worse in 2009 after an undercover video revealed two of its employees giving advice on how to set up a prostitution ring and commit tax fraud.