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DealBook: How tax giants write their own rules

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“Ethical Markets highly recommends this important story!

Hazel Henderson, Editor”

Behind the columns at the Treasury Department, a revolving door.Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

Taxing times

There’s a well-oiled revolving door between the largest accounting firms in the U.S. and the Treasury Department, The Times’s Jesse Drucker and Danny Hakim report. The cycling of professionals between the public and private sectors is nothing new, but the ability of the biggest tax advisers to embed their employees inside the government’s most important tax policy jobs has largely escaped public scrutiny.

Here’s how it works:

  • Executives at the biggest accounting firms encourage their top tax lawyers to do stints at the Treasury.
  • While at the Treasury, these legal professionals help write rules — like one that allowed restaurants to claim a tax break intended for manufacturers by claiming they were “manufacturing” cheesecake slices out of whole cheesecakes — that allow their former corporate clients to reduce their tax bills.
  • The same professionals, sometimes just months after helping write new rules, are welcomed back to their former employers in more senior positions with higher pay.

By the numbers: During the past four presidential administrations, there have been at least 35 people, including five of the past six heads of the Treasury’s tax policy office, who left jobs at a top accounting firm to take a tax policy position in the government, only to return to their previous employers at a later date. About half of those returning individuals were made partners, a position that can pay as much as $1 million a year, according to public records reviewed by The Times and interviews with current and former government and industry officials.

Government agencies rely on expertise from the private sector to understand the real-world effects of the tax code. Federal rules prohibit government officials from working on many matters in which they have financial interests, like having an unwritten agreement to return to their prior firm.

(Accounting firms aren’t the only ones taking advantage of Washington’s revolving door. As DealBook recently reported, crypto firms have been aggressively hiring former regulators to bolster their lobbying operations.)

Deloitte, PwC, RSM and other accounting firms declined to comment on The Times’s investigation. Eric Sloan, a former senior tax lawyer at Deloitte, said that he saw nothing wrong with telling junior employees that stints in government would earn them big financial rewards when they returned to private practice. Tax professionals may also want to join the government to make changes that they genuinely believe are in the public interest.

The accounting industry’s back-and-forth arrangements get results. The taxes that corporations pay, as a percentage of G.D.P., have been shrinking for years. This share now sits near a 50-year low, and some former industry veterans say that the personnel flow between the private and public sectors has played a part.

“Administering the law is complicated, and corporate America distributes huge paychecks to revolving-door experts to give them the edge,” Jeff Hauser of the Revolving Door Project, part of the liberal-leaning Center for Economic and Policy Research, told DealBook. Paying government officials more would slow the door’s swing, he said: “The public is best off when government employees see the public interest and their personal interest as one and the same.”

Read the full article about how accounting giants craft favorable tax rules.

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Source: https://www.ethicalmarkets.com/dealbook-how-tax-giants-write-their-own-rules/

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About The Current Global Collapse Trajectory and COP26 – Tuesday, October 26th

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Sustainable Consumption at COP 26
Implementing SDG 12

Update to Limits to Growth Author and IPCC Contributor on the Panel
Tuesday, October 26, 2021
1:15 to 2:45 PM EDT
Alert Colleagues. Register and get the recording link.

Please attend our next lead-up to COP26 webinar focusing on the current economic and social collapse trajectory. First, Gaya Herrington, author of the recent “Update to Limits to Growth,” will present her findings from updated modeling. Then, Russian climatologist and IPCC contributor Oleg Anisimov will examine evidence of Arctic destabilization, and Karim Ahmed will discuss health and populations at risk.

Nancy Gillis, the Global Electronics Council CEO, will moderate the session and discuss GEC’s new campaign to better manage the natural resources required to change the trajectory. More details and panel bios are below.

Register

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Source: https://www.ethicalmarkets.com/about-the-current-global-collapse-trajectory-and-cop26-tuesday-october-26th/

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Perspectives: The Real “Right to Life”

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Manchin’s fear of an “Entitlement Society”

By Rinaldo S. Brutoco

The following Perspectives column was published in the October 21, 2021 (online and printed) edition of the Montecito Journal as well as on the World Business Academy website.
Roe v. Wade appears to be on its last legs. The current, radical, Supreme Court sits poised to riddle Roe with Texas-sized exceptions or to overturn it all together. Ever since Roe was handed down on January 22, 1973, the press has been full of, and our national politics traumatized by, charges and counter-charges concerning the “right to life.” What is at stake in this current Supreme Court term is whether a woman has a right to control her own body in consultation with her private physician, or whether women will lose that right and be forced to act as baby machines because external political forces are allowed to impose their narrow view of morality on the rest of us.

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Source: https://www.ethicalmarkets.com/perspectives-the-real-right-to-life/

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COP26 to Break Ground for Zero Carbon Buildings Future

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By Christiana Hageneder, Head of the Programme for Energy Efficiency in Buildings (PEEB), and Martina Otto, Head of UNEP’s Cities Unit and GlobalABC Secretariat

In a few days, thousands of world leaders, CEOs, negotiators, activists and journalists will gather in Glasgow for COP26, which comes at a time of climate emergency.

When we think of the root causes of climate change, they are often represented by smoking exhaust pipes, cargo ships, planes, coal mines or oil fields; rarely by our own homes, offices, heating boilers and air-conditioners, or construction sites and cement plants.

Yet buildings are a top emitter of climate-changing gases into our atmosphere: 37 per cent of energy-related CO2 emissions in 2020 came from the construction and operation of our buildings – houses, apartments, offices, hospitals, schools, markets, train stations or airports.

The buildings and construction sector must urgently be decarbonized through a triple strategy: Reducing energy demand, decarbonizing the power supply, and addressing embodied carbon stored in building materials, if we are to have any chance of meeting the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global warming to 1.5C

According to the 2021 Global Status Report for Buildings and Constructions, which was released on 19 October 2021, the challenges to reaching a net zero, energy-efficient and resilient buildings and construction sector are considerable: GlobalABC’s Global Buildings Climate Tracker shows improvements in energy investment and power decarbonization, yet these efforts are insufficient, both in terms of speed and scale, to achieve the deep sectoral transformation that is needed.

Glasgow must mark a breakthrough for climate action in buildings.

The good news is that the world is waking up to the reality that the built environment is a critical sector for climate action. Six years after COP21 in Paris that put buildings on the agenda, 2021 features a Cities, Regions and Built Environment Day. Taking place on 11 November, it is spearheaded by a strong alliance of partners rallying under the #BuildingToCOP26 campaign, with support from the COP26 UK presidency and the High-Level Climate Champions.

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Source: https://www.ethicalmarkets.com/cop26-to-break-ground-for-zero-carbon-buildings-future/

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Labor and Workers in the Food System

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Sustainable food must be produced in a way that takes not only the environment and consumers into account, but also the people who grow, harvest and process it.

Current methods of production of crops, like corn and soybeans, rely heavily on machinery. Thousands of acres can be planted, sprayed and harvested by just a few people operating large equipment like tractors and combines; the latest versions of which have built-in GPS and computers to analyze the field.

But for raising and processing fruits, vegetables, meat and poultry, the agriculture industry still relies primarily on human labor. Farm and food workers are mainly an immigrant workforce, many of whom are undocumented. They are often poorly paid and work in harsh or dangerous conditions. This is just the latest chapter in a long history: the US was built on exploitative agricultural labor that dates back to slavery. Today, however, some of the most successful worker-organizing strategies are emerging from the fields, as farm and food workers fight for their rights and dignity.

A Brief History of US Farm and Food Labor

The struggles of today’s food and farmworkers are not new. The National Farm Worker Ministry spells out that since the earliest US history, agricultural workers have been a disenfranchised group, often brought against their will and denied the right to vote once in the US. A brief examination of a history of US farm labor shows that it is inseparable from a history of state-sponsored racism. 1

In the 1600s, indentured servants were brought from England with the agreement to work as field laborers in exchange for their passage to the so-called New World. When farm labor demand began to outstrip the supply of willing servants, land owners and bosses expanded the African slave trade, developing an economy reliant on the labor of enslaved people kidnapped from Africa. The practice continued legally for 200 years, enriching businesses in both North and South, until the end of the Civil War in 1865.

Following the war, constitutional amendments passed prohibiting slavery and granting citizenship to formerly enslaved men, and promises were made to help integrate them into society. But instead of granting formerly enslaved people their promised “40 acres and a mule,” the white power structure passed the sweeping Jim Crow laws of the 1890s, institutionalizing discrimination and ensuring that cruel treatment of African-Americans would continue for decades to come. As a result, many former slaves and their descendants continued working in the fields sharecropping or to pay off debts, often in conditions not notably better than enslavement.

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Source: https://www.ethicalmarkets.com/labor-and-workers-in-the-food-system/

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