Thursday, 23 May 2013

Google's driver less cars. They're being allowed in US States. And so Google release a video of one. Driven by a blind man.

You'll probably have heard by now, about Google's new project for driverless cars. They've now been licensed in Nevada, California and Florida although are not expected to be under general manufacture for 2/3 years. But only, 2 or 3 years.

Google syndicated a video recently (below) of how a driverless car works and to prove the point, they sat a blind man in the driving seat.

 The argument is of course that driverless cars (like airplanes) will be safer and indeed that they'll improve traffic congestion (intersections for example, will work far more efficiently).

They also have clear benefits for those who couldn't normally drive like blind or disabled and indeed poor drivers who really shouldn't. They've better fuel usage, better distance control, better parking (being able to identify a spot easier), the ability to react quicker and so on. Presumably too, they've overcome texting whilst driving, mobile calls when driving and drink driving? If the car is in control, the driver is unimportant and more so, you can call the car to come and pick you up at the office. (Or the pub). An end to Taxis?

Amazing stuff which we all just have to get used to but one of the big hold-ups is the threat to the manufacturer that if something goes wrong, they'll get badly sued. But we'll see.

What's also amazing is that racing cars can become driverless. This video shows how but imagine 14 Formula One drivers watching their cars go around Monte Carlo with just joysticks in their hand. Not the same but an awful lot safer.

We'll get used to this. Airplanes too on fly-by-wire with the pilot monitoring the flight from the ground (like US drones). The fact that they're now being licensed to operate in several US states will open the manufacturing opportunity real quick. 

This is not a dream but something we will all see in our lifetime. In fact, within 5 years.

And the next talk is to bring them into the air. It's the quickest way to get from A to B after all and avoids traffic. 

Amazing, amazing, that technology is. 

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Ireland. The Tax Haven. And are lies being told?

Today Apple is in the US dock about tax avoidance through Ireland, referred to as a "tax haven", which it clearly is. And lies are being told.

Channel 4 are reporting that the Irish government have done special tax deals with multinationals below the 12.5% corporate tax rate. 

Reuters tonight, via The Irish Independent, reports that 

"According to the congressional report, Ireland had also agreed a special 2pc rate for Apple's Irish taxable profits instead of the normal 12.5pc."

The Prime Minister Enda Kenny denies this. So too Eamon Gilmore his deputy. RTE News tonight said Revenue have also confirmed that there's "no special deals". 

They'd better be truthful because it looks like they're not. There's too many reports that a special low rate deal was done with multinationals. And if The Prime Minister has misled the House tonight, by saying no deal was done, there will be trouble. 

Because someone here is wrong by definition. The US Congress or The Irish Government.

Where the Irish politicans "dodge" in words may be, by saying that the 12.5% rates does apply on profits "generated in Ireland only".

But that's a dodge. Authoritative sources say a deal was done, they're saying it wasn't. 

Either way too, those profits are deliberately manipulated downwards through licence fees paid offshore by multinationals to places like Bermuda. And we facilitate that.

Secondly, if a profit is brought into Ireland, it's either Irish revenue or it's not. If it's not, as the Government will say, then the tax should have been paid elsewhere - and it hasn't been. 

Because clearly, multinationals are paying even less than 12.5% Irish tax haven rate - nearer 1% - without prosecution in Ireland so if deals aren't done, why then are they not pursued?

And clearly too, if they were paying the 12.5% tax on what we're told is their "Irish revenue", then Ireland would not be in a financial mess. 

US Tax for Apple according to the well regarded Channel 4 News, is 35%. But by transferring their profits to Ireland, they avoid paying that. 

Apple Operations International, between 2009-12, put 30 billion into Ireland as income...but paid no tax on it. No 12.5%.

Apple Sales International similarly transferred a further 22 billion profits to Ireland in 2011 but paid only 10 million in taxes (so not 12.5% either).  

US Senator John McCain today said Apple's 3 Irish operations hold 60% of the companies profits. He also said they negotiated (with the Irish government) a rate of less than 2%.

Now either he's wrong with everyone else - or Enda Kenny has lied. Did Apple do a deal Enda or not?

If Apple alone had paid 12.5% on their "Irish income", this country would not have a budget deficit.

I do get a bit tired blogging about multinational tax "avoidance" and the role of Ireland in facilitating it.

You can search some of my previous tax blogs mainly from last year.

And of course, this week we saw Google defend a regime that their sales are not in the UK, but in Ireland. Here's what I said about them on December 3rd

"Google, with a staff in the UK of 1,300 books most of its revenue to surprise, surprise, Ireland. So it earns money in the UK but funnels it through Ireland. That's Ireland's great tax regime I mean that attracts companies like these in the first place. Actually Google's "Irish" revenue is recorded as 12.4 billion. How ridiculous is that? Gross profit in Ireland in 2011 was recorded at 9 billion!! It's truly ridiculous."

And everytime I blog about tax, I take a hit. Irish people think you're being disloyal, unpatriotic and generally live in fear of google/facebook/zynga/dropbox/microsoft and others, jobs.

What's so wrong about all of this is that the Irish government pursues its own citizens for tax through the courts and cause undue hardship. But they let big corporations (and I was the CEO of one), avoid tax.


This is a dreadful charade and furthermore, if there is lying going on (and I believe there is), it will cause the collapse of the Irish government.

If you're interested here are my previous blogs to search in the search bar:

January 3rd Blog. Facebook and the cayman islands via Ireland. And Zynga.