The Malta Independent 20 June 2019, Thursday

Taxation in Europe

Alfred Sant Thursday, 28 September 2017, 09:17 Last update: about 3 years ago

Pressures are still building up in Europe for corporation taxes (eventually also income tax on citizens) to be brought closer to the same structure across countries. Up to now, the setting of such taxes remains the prerogative of EU member states. They decide how to design their own tax systems.

Here is how the argument for change goes:

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The present arrangements make for an ever greater complexity when corporations, big and small, come to evaluate the impact of their cross border investment proposals in Europe, an area which supposedly is morphing into a single market.

Current arrangements are also allowing companies, especially the bigger ones, to fudge their income statements and show profits in countries where they can pay least taxes on them. Indeed they sometimes end up paying no taxes at all. So there is unfair tax competition occurring between EU member states, which is undermining the single market that should exist between them.

Very rarely is the point made or allowed that for small or peripheral countries, as well as for islands, there is a need to design advantageous tax systems if they are to attract private investment in their direction.

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HIV

Broadly, it seems as if worldwide, the AIDS disease which generated so much panic some thirty years ago, is finally coming under total control. Meanwhile, celebrities like Michel Foucault as well as numerous American filmstars, died from it.

Religions appropriated the disease as an instrument by which to stress their thesis that the loosening of sexual mores inevitably leads to social decline, as happened in Sodom and Gomorrah. It is difficult to counter such myths.

However a major problem still needs to be resolved: the removal of all stigma on persons with HIV or AIDs related conditions. The disease has been damped, even in its contagious aspects. Yet, where there is still a deficiency is in the control over how society deals with those who have been/are infected, such as when they must reveal their condition, say to apply for a job or for some social benefit or other. Their fear is that they will then be stigmatised and kept at a distance. Which probably is what happens.

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Options for sports

In sports policy, the island has to choose where to allocate the bulk of the available resources: should it be on the promotion of sport for all, by supporting a wide range of sports facilities where all can take part – not in competitive mode, but as a freetime occupation in order to keep healthy?  Or should it be on the promotion of athletes and players who can do well in international competitions in which they take part in Malta’s name?

The first option would serve to emphasize an authentic feel good among the people, which is certainly an admirable objective. The second approach could serve to encourage a sense of national pride.  It would be great if one or the other of the two options – ideally both – were to give the desired results.

Might we need an analytic account of how successful we have been in following these options? An outside observer could conclude we are failing in both. What’s worrying... if I’m looking at the data the right way... is that participation in sports among the Maltese population has increased mostly by way of betting on sports results.

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