German tax cheat gets $10M in damages from bank

A court has ordered a former subsidiary of Liechtenstein’s LGT bank to pay over euro7.3 million ($10 million) to a client for failing to inform him that his confidential details had been stolen and handed to authorities, thereby harming his chances of escaping criminal penalties for tax evasion.

Fiduco Treuhand AG, previously known as LGT Treuhand AG, said Monday it would appeal against the decision by the principality’s district court ordering it to pay Elmar Schulte compensation for a fine of the same size that he was given in place of prison time by a German court after being found guilty of tax evasion.

Schulte was among hundreds of German citizens exposed as tax cheats when German authorities obtained a CD-ROM containing the names of LGT Treuhand clients more than two years ago. [Read the full article]

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Hopes that that Greece won’t be allowed to default on its crushing debt load weighed against fears the country’s crisis would spread through the 16-country euro zone, as the government worked Monday on a tax overhaul aimed at getting its deficit under control.

Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou says a new tax bill to be presented this week will expand the top 40 percent tax bracket to incomes below the current euro75,000 ($102,000) threshold.

In an interview in Ta Nea newspaper, Papaconstantinou also insisted that middle- and low-income earners would pay less tax. Papaconstantinou hopes to raise nearly euro4 billion in extra taxes this year, and an additional euro1.2 billion from a crackdown on tax evasion.

European stocks rebounded Monday, a sign that some think the government debt crisis that has shaken up European Union leaders may have been overdone. [Read the full article]

President Obama has been talking — a lot — about what Washington needs to do to help save small businesses. Over the past week, he’s introduced a half-dozen different initiatives aimed at unlocking credit, creating jobs and expanding the Small Business Administration’s loan programs.

But most of Obama’s proposals remain just that — proposals. For them to go any further, Congress needs to get on board and pass legislation.

“If there are additional ideas from either party, I’m happy to consider them,” Obama said Friday from Lanham, Md., where he traveled to visit a small mechanical services firm. “But what I hope — what I strongly urge — is that we work quickly and we work together to get this done. America’s small businesses are counting on us.”

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Jobs: Obama traveled to Baltimore last week to announce a $33 billion program of tax incentives to encourage hiring and wage growth. [Read the full article]

For years, buying low-tax North Carolina cigarettes and selling them on the black market in a high-tax state up north has been an easy way to make big money for criminal enterprises.

Load up a van of Camels or Marlboros and reap a $100,000 profit to sell them if the destination is New York City, which has a $1.50-per-pack excise tax in addition to the $2.75 state cigarette tax.

“The cigarette tax evasion stampede is out of control,” said Jim Calvin, president of the New York Association of Convenience Stores. More than half of cigarettes purchased in his state are bought without paying state or local taxes, largely because of out-of-state smuggling and Internet sales.

Catching people with North Carolina contraband is difficult because it’s one of three states that don’t require tax stamps affixed on every pack being sold. [Read the full article]

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