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The Two Most Interesting Things You’ll Read This Week Are About Corporate Taxes

Geplaatst op nov 2, 2013 in News

One Country’s Robin Hood Is Another’s Scourge

Man Making Ireland Tax Avoidance Hub Proves Local Hero


If I were a slave to narrative, I would begin the tale like this: One man sits on a folding chair in a garage outside Washington D.C., scrupulously tackling the problems in the corporate tax code without partisan leanings. Another splits his time between an apartment in the south of France and a million-dollar house in a Dublin suburb, being celebrated by his countrymen while helping clients like Google avoid taxes. These are the stories of Marty Sullivan, profiled in The Washington Post, and Feargal O’Rourke, featured in Bloomberg, and while it’s tempting to see one as a hero and the other as a villain, the title of the Bloomberg piece is an indication of just how complicated the debate over corporate tax reform really is. O’Rourke, as the tax head at PwC in Ireland and an adviser to politicians, has carved out a nice little niche that both helps multinationals save money and supports his home country. He talks with pride about “selling Ireland” to companies and asks, “Why should Ireland be the policeman for the U.S.?”

So what might an ideal tax code look like to Sullivan, who initially called out drug and tech companies for transferring patent and trademark ownership to Ireland? For one thing, any business with more than $50 million in sales would be subject to a corporate tax — no more LLC loopholes. For the rest of his ideas — and much more on O’Rourke’s philosophy and dealings — read both features. Seriously.

Only If It’s a Surprise

Do Employees Work Harder for Higher Pay?

HBS Working Knowledge

Once, long ago, I received a paycheck that was 20% higher than usual, which I took to be an unsolicited bonus from a grateful boss. Elated, I redoubled my efforts the next week until I found out that it had simply been a mistake — six days had been recorded on my time sheet instead of the usual five. Turns out, though, that I’m not the only one who would work harder in response to an unsolicited raise. In a clever field experiment, doctoral student Duncan Gilchrist and Michael Luca and Deepak Malhotra of Harvard Business School hired 266 workers through oDesk for a four-hour data-entry job. A third of them were paid $3 an hour. Another third, who didn’t know about the first group, were paid $4. The extra money had no effect on the second group’s efforts — most likely, Malhotra says, because the latter bunch simply concluded that $4 was the going rate for the job. But workers who were hired at $3 an hour and then given an unlooked-for raise to $4 worked 20% harder than either of the other two groups. Having perceived the raise as a gift, they wanted to reciprocate, and they did — with higher productivity. —Andrea Ovans

Do You Like Scary Movies?

I Challenged Hackers to Investigate Me and What They Found Out is Chilling


Almost 15 years ago, Adam Penenberg asked a private detective to investigate him for a Forbes story about how much information can be collected (and sometimes sold) about you. He recently repeated this experiment, this time turning to a white-hat hacker who’s hired by big companies to detect security flaws (and who, strangely, doesn’t have recognizable fingerprints). The results are predictable but no less horrifying: The hacker and his crew were able to access Penenberg’s wife’s computer via a phishing email, which led them to a trove of personal documents. What does all this mean for the rest of us in this data-saturated digital world? Here’s the fascinating way one “person” approached that question

That’s Comforting

Research: Corporate Executives Hugely Overconfident

Duke Fuqua School of Business

Researchers studying decision making in business are often criticized for recruiting undergraduates for their experiments. The assumption behind this criticism is that seasoned veterans know a lot more than college students. But do they? A study of CFO surveys shows that corporate financial professionals are way too sure of their ability to predict the future. Over the course of a decade, the CFOs were asked to state the range of one-year stock-market forecasts that they thought would lead them to be right 80% of the time. An analysis of those surveys and the reality of the stock market shows that the ranges they picked “were way too narrow,” says researcher Campbell R. Harvey of Duke. “They barely got more than 1 in 3 correct.” The executives’ overconfidence about their knowledge of the stock market appears to have filtered into their companies’ policies, affecting decision making at high levels. Maybe the companies would have been better off listening to a few college students. —Andy O’Connell 

Whose Fault is Debt?

The Prophet

Pacific Standard

Is it ethical to charge people money in exchange for telling them that their debt is their own lazy fault? In the case of personal finance guru Dave Ramsey, the answer is “probably not.” This excellent piece from Helaine Olen delves into the contradictions that lace Ramsey’s extraordinarily popular debt-reduction philosophy (which is built around the Bible, his own experience filing for bankruptcy, and American rugged individualism), asking whether it’s possible to go debt-free using mere self-restraint in the face of issues like, oh, massive and unexpected hospital bills. While there are scientific studies to both support and detract from Ramsey’s formula, which is detailed further in the article, Olen questions whether he’s setting a dangerous trap: “By telling people they have more power than they really do,” he motivates his audiences to take action; but his message also encourages them to ignore the structural realities that are at the root of economic trends. A profitable business if you can get it (and I’m not sure I want it). 


The Way We Work Now

The True Challenge of Managing Remote Workers: People Who Work Too Hard (Inc.)
As I Lay Lying: Standing Desks are Taking Over, So I Worked From Bed to Protest (The New Republic)
Commuting’s Hidden Cost (The New York Times)

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