Why Europe wants America to raise taxes
When the G20 went after tax havens last April, I said it was just a first step toward a push for “tax harmonization,” a fancy phrase that really means getting low-tax nations to raise their tax rates. Then I see what the prime minister of Finland is advocating:
We have to initiate discussions at the European Union level about how to prepare for the post-crisis period. Getting public finances in order is a must if we are to grow, create employment and provide the welfare services that we in Europe value so much. … This will require tight control and, in many countries, painful cuts. However, it would be unrealistic to assume that all the balancing could be done on the spending side alone. … The overall tax rate will have to rise as well over the longer term. In some areas that can be done without much consultation between the countries. … However, raising such taxes can have detrimental effects on economic activity. This is especially so when a country acts on its own: capital and people can respond by migrating to jurisdictions with lower rates. … Parallel measures would help all of Europe: tax competition risk would be reduced and the public finances of individual countries would improve. Such co-ordinated tax changes could set also an important global example. In particular, it might encourage the US – with lower tax levels in most areas – to do what has to be done to address its spiralling budget deficit.
My spin: Don’t raise the bridge, lower the river! Why countries don’t try to instead supercharge their economies is beyond me.