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Lucky Spin
37, Marion, Montana, United States
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UK's Investment Regime is no Longer Leader of The
Feb 02, 2006

Gordon Brown walked into a recent meeting of EU finance ministers insisting “we believe that tax competition is the best way forward”.

Using taxation to make Britain a more attractive place to invest has been the policy of all British chancellors for the past 20 years. Having been among the leaders, however, the UK is being overtaken. It has fallen out of the top ten in international competitiveness studies and is in danger of rejoining the pack.

The days are long gone when leading British companies queued to leave the country to avoid punitively high tax rates and a regime notoriously unfriendly to companies relying on foreign earnings.

The reform of corporation tax set in train in 1984 allowed the main rate to be cut from 54 per cent to 35 per cent and today's 30 per cent. Rules that sent multinationals to Amsterdam and other centres were softened and the Treasury listened to calls to align taxation of key sectors better with the way their businesses operated.

Top rates of UK income tax were heavily cut, foreign expatriates — needed to make the City a top world financial centre — were treated sympathetically, and favourable arrangements were often allowed to rich foreign individuals who chose to locate here.

This change of heart, along with wider economic reforms and the English language, helped to make the UK Europe’s leading destination for foreign direct investment. Eurozone countries preferred to invest in Britain. It was even claimed that the UK had become a tax haven.

That position has progressively come under attack from two directions. Pressures to raise tax rates or tighten tax rules have grown, both at home and abroad. So has competition from other countries keen to emulate the UK approach, starting more than a decade ago with Ireland adopting a 12.5 per cent company tax rate.

Making the rich pay more tax is always a good political slogan, especially if they pay less than ordinary people and the revenue can be allocated to specific popular causes. Ireland’s low company tax rate boosted revenue sixfold in a decade but now there are calls for higher rates to help redistribute wealth.

Measures to protect tax revenue by closing loopholes for avoidance have so far proved a greater threat. The combination of rising public spending programmes and political resistance to higher tax rates puts pressure on the new combined Revenue & Customs to squeeze as much as possible from existing taxes.

Unless elections cut them short, Finance Acts typically contain hundreds of pages that are mostly designed to close loopholes. Some are intended to raise tax bills. Others, especially when not subject to consultation in advance, have unintended consequences that make life harder for multinationals, for whom tax planning is almost a profit centre in its own right.

This can work both ways. Arrangements to encourage film-making in Britain proved so costly that they were withdrawn in favour of more modest incentives.

Stamp duty on UK share transactions, a British rarity, presents a typical quandary. Use of financial derivatives such as contracts for difference has made the tax voluntary for the global investment banks that choose to base operations in the UK. So revenue is in decline and the tax has become unfair for small investors. But if the Treasury took action to protect the revenue, it could drive trade offshore or to rival continental centres.

Most of the official pressure from the EU is to harmonise rates upwards, but the reality is that tax competition is dragging company tax rates downwards across Europe.

Most of the EU member states from Central and Eastern Europe are seeking to emulate the lower tax rates and higher growth rates shown by Ireland and, more modestly, Britain. Slovakia’s 19 per cent tax rate and accommodating regime is turning it into the world’s biggest per capita car manufacturer. Poland, in response, has decided to move towards an 18 per cent flat rate tax, not just for companies. Further east, Russia and Romania have opted for even lower tax rates to combat mass evasion. Such low rates do present a direct threat to investment in the UK but not necessarily a big one. Danuta Hubner, Poland’s EU Commissioner, asks: “Why should foreign investors come if they do not get tax benefits to compensate for bad telephone lines and pitted roads?”

But high-tax Western Europe is having to respond. German corporation tax is to start at 19 per cent, the UK’s small company rate, and Austria is moving its main rate to 25 per cent. The UK may need to at least match that if investment in Britain is not to become a loser from tax competition.

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slovak girls
Jul 11, 2007


A story about slovakian girls
On my first night in Bratislava, Slovak Republic, while I was waiting for the first Monica, who was going to pick me up in front of my hotel at 9 o'clock, two young Italians stopped to ask me if I could suggest a place where they could have some fun that night in Slovakia.
Before I had the chance to hide behind my usual "I don't speak Italian" (spoken in English, of course), they went on to say, "You can't get any slovak girls here. We arrived yesterday and we're leaving tomorrow. The taxi driver refused to help us find some girls and the female receptionist at the hotel wanted to throw us out when we asked her where we could get some women. The Slovak Republic where taxi drivers and receptionists can't understand the tourist is underdeveloped. We're going back to Thailand!"
Marco and Sandro come from the small Italian... more

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Success Stories
Girls in Bratislava

by Steve

True to God's blueprint for Eastern Europe, the girls in Bratislava have to be seen to be believed. They dress to turn heads, and probably would even if they wore shiny tracksuits salvaged from the eighties. Fortunately, short skirts, tight trousers and skimpy tops are more the order of the day.

The Slovakian capital, with its relaxed vibe, narrow streets and pavement bars, is made for drinking, drooling, and generally watching the world go by. Go somewhere else for serious conversation, which will be frequently derailed by passing lovelies causing eyes and minds to wander.

By night, Slovakian girls are not only heartbreakingly beautiful, they also love to party, and often prowl the bars and clubs of Bratislava in large groups. They love to practice their English, to chat and to be chatted up, but you will have to play your cards carefully to get anything more than an innocent peck on the cheek. You wouldn't be the first to mistake the innocent charm of Slovakian girls for something more.

After a weekend in Bratislava, you will believe in love at first sight.


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