IRS sues Facebook for $9bn

Double Irish, you say?

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The issue with this approach is it will be abused just like Civil Asset Forfeiture.

This was created to go after the assests of kingpins but is now used mostly to steal from regular people and pad the coffers of the police department or pay for junkets.

If the institution is corrupt then the rules don’t matter.

Canada, the EU and the UK all have some form of asset forfeiture that is akin to (though not identical to) the US forfeiture rules, but it isn’t abused in the same way (or at least not nearly to the same extent).

The idea that because people abuse rules we can’t have any rules devolves into might-makes-right, which is exactly what is happening here. Facebook probably has more to spend on lawyers than the IRS does. They’ll either get out of this or settle for a fraction of what is owed.


I am definitely not advocating for no rules. I am merely saying that quite often, when we give government agencies extra powers to go after the “evil kingpins”, they end up using them against law abiding citizens.

As far as the UK’s laws:

And Canada’s:

I don’t think the power to tax corporations without launching civil suits is a power to go after evil kingpins. I think it’s the power to be a government and impose taxes.

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I’m certainly not saying they should not impose taxes. I just think that in the case of facebook (who’m I despise) and everyone else, they should be as restrained as possible as history has show us that an overly powerful “tax man” can be a rather tyranical tool. As far as Facebook is concerned, if they are breaking our tax laws then neither our government nor the IRS is a pennyless babe in the woods and should be able to collect if they show the laws were broken. I will be the first one to salt the earth if Facebook is destroyed, I just want it to be done properly and not at the future expense of others.

The IRS is absolutely a penniless babe in the woods, intentionally so. The IRS’s total expenditure in 2018 was about 12 billion dollars which sounds like a lot, but Facebook’s profit in 2018 was 22 billion dollars. That 12 billion isn’t for regulating facebook, it’s for regulating every corporation and every person that cheats on taxes.


Yes, tax agencies in developed countries have basically just given up trying to collect from anyone rich. The Panama papers and other leaks basically produces zero prosecutions. If you owe $500 in taxes they will put you in prison. If you $5M and a signed confession then the worst they will do is ask nicely for a third of it.


Weirdly, Ireland seems to have done the same things that many southern US states have done in order to attract business to their state - offered generous tax cuts in exchange for investments and jobs. I live in Georgia, and we are considered one of the best, growing tech hubs in the US outside of Silicon Valley (competing with the research triangle in North Carolina for businesses in the south). But we also have a dearth of public services. We’re currently in the midst of the legislative season in our state, and there is a budget crisis on. The new governor promised a raise for public school teachers, but has asked for pretty deep cuts across the board in order to pay for it. The Republican control legislature has to have a balanced budget (that’s in our state constitution) AND they refuse to raise state taxes at all. Meanwhile, local taxes, especially property taxes in the city of Atlanta and the metro area, keep going up and up, contributing to pushing the working classes out of the city.

The neo-liberal order at work in both cases.

I’ve heard this is becoming an issue, with the cost of living in the metropolitian areas like Dublin are rising to points where most can’t afford to live in cities. Are suburban areas and rural areas still relatively cheap?



It’s very definitely an issue. It was the number one issue at the last election, health service was next, with climate and raising pension age being 3 and 4 a long way back. The commuter belt outside Dublin has expanded dramatically and the right wing government’s use of the term “people who get up early in the morning” backfired on the working poor commuting long hours and paying huge fees to leave children in dubious crèches.

Thing is that low tax isn’t even a good strategy to attract FDI. Not only that but that which it does attract has few spillover benefits to the host economy. If extraction made you rich all colonised countries would be rich. Apple in Cork does stuff and has a good sized workforce earning decent money and contributing to society. Apple in Dublin is a brass plate and maybe 40 of the most state funded lawyers in the history of the world offshoring profits.
I have links to research on deciding factors for FDI if anyone is interested. I’m on my phone now rather than at my work computer.


You might be surprised that his is not the case:

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I’d be fine with just not letting corporations lobby (i.e. spend money on lobbying politicians) at all. That’s not free speech, it’s force.


We are certainly in desperate need of reform in this arena.

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That good news in the big picture, but the article had a link to the 23 countries that had recovered money from the papers and Canada and the US were conspicuously absent. Canada said it might recoup $11M, but I know that’s a small fraction of what was revealed. In hundreds of cases they are considering criminal prosecution for 10. Making tax cases against wealthy people is incredibly difficult and most of them are just dropped.

I get that if you create a draconian system with no balances then that’s bad. But the balances that exist in the current system do very little to protect the ordinary people and do an extraordinary amount to protect the rich. It’s the same with the justice system. The way we conduct trials is supposed to protect people from unjust prosecution but poor Americans basically have no leverage in the system and no protection against unjust prosecution. They overwhelmingly just take plea deals on the advice of lawyers who think it’s better for an innocent person to serve 3 years than 5 years.

But we’re all holding our breath to see if Weinstein gets convicted because we know rich people often don’t. It’s trickle down human rights - if we make sure to have a fair system for Weinstein and Facebook then surely it will make the system fairer for the rest of us.

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