Shared posts

03 May 10:50

The Sharing Economy Doesn’t Share the Wealth

Every time Ian Haines rents out his spare room in the Australian port city of Albany, Airbnb takes a 13 percent cut. Haines, who’s semi-retired, uses the extra money to supplement his income running a local farmers market. He says he’s careful to pay taxes on the Airbnb money, because the San Francisco company may report the transactions to the Australian government.

For Airbnb, things are different. Because it manages its finances via units in Ireland and tax havens like Jersey in the Channel Islands, only a small part of its share of the revenue is ever likely to be taxed by Australia or the U.S. A review of Airbnb’s overseas regulatory filings shows it has a far more extensive web of subsidiaries than it has publicly acknowledged—more than 40 in all.

This is the challenge that Airbnb, like Uber and other companies in the so-called sharing economy, poses for the world’s treasuries. In the five years since these businesses began their spiraling growth, some cities and states around the globe have fought hard to make them play by the same rules as traditional hotels or taxis and collect various local taxes—often as not, they’ve lost. As the new breed of companies moves toward profitability, transforming larger chunks of the economy, policy experts say the battle is likely to shift to the national level, where billions of dollars a year in corporate taxes could be at risk. (A source close to Airbnb says the company will turn its first profit this year.) Governments have been slow to respond.

“These companies are the future,” says Stephen Shay, a former top international tax lawyer at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, now teaching at Harvard. “The nature of their business and the structure of the companies can allow them to essentially keep all of their profits out of the U.S. Unless the tax systems find a way to deal with this, the lost revenue may be enormous.”

For years, pharmaceutical and tech companies including Pfizer, Merck, Google, and Apple have slashed their U.S. federal tax bills by using offshore tax havens and shifting profits abroad. Airbnb and Uber are starting to extend this strategy across vast new fields: PricewaterhouseCoopers estimates that sharing-economy businesses generated $15 billion in revenue in 2014 and will take in $335 billion in 2025, growing largely at the expense of companies that pay billions in U.S. taxes.

It’s not always a zero-sum game; the newer businesses can expand the overall market. The IRS, which has been depleted by budget cuts and lost several high-profile corporate tax cases, says it hasn’t tried to calculate the potential revenue loss. While Treasury has proposed some measures in recent years to curb tax avoidance by digital companies—on April 4, the department issued rules limiting tax shifting through mergers—partisan division in Congress makes serious changes unlikely.

Airbnb officials declined to discuss tax strategies. “We pay all of the tax that is due in all of the places that we do business,” says spokesman Nick Papas. “When we make long-term business decisions, we act in the best interest of our community.”

Once it makes a profit, Airbnb’s corporate structure will give it an array of options to legally sidestep federal taxes in the U.S. and elsewhere. Two of its subsidiaries are in Ireland, where local tax laws allow U.S. multinationals to avoid both the 35 percent top rate in the U.S. and Ireland’s 12.5 percent income tax.

Money from Airbnb transactions in 190 countries, including Haines’s rentals in Australia, goes directly to a payment center in Ireland. Airbnb collects 6 percent to 12 percent of the rental price, depending on cost, then deducts 3 percent from the host’s take before passing the money along. This lets Airbnb shield most of its profit from the country where the service was delivered. (Airbnb Ireland pays the Australian subsidiary a small fee for marketing in-country, and the subsidiary pays tax on its profits.)

Irish law makes it easy for multinationals to shift profits to tax havens by assigning valuable intellectual-property rights there. Airbnb has two subsidiaries, Airbnb International Holdings and Airbnb 2 Unlimited, on Jersey, which has no corporate tax. Tax experts say that if Airbnb assigns its software IP to a Jersey unit, the company could shift much of the profit to the haven through royalty payments from its Irish subsidiary. Pharma and tech companies have used similar strategies to cut their overall tax rates to the low single digits.

The Australian Senate called local managers to testify alongside Uber in November at a public hearing on corporate tax avoidance. Sam McDonagh, Airbnb’s country manager there, testified that taxes never motivate the company’s strategic choices. “The No. 1 reason we located ourselves in Ireland was for access to great talent,” McDonagh said. The response from one of the senators: “Come on!”

Whatever Airbnb’s motivation, the result is tax-minimizing options unavailable to traditional competitors. While Airbnb doesn’t own the properties rented on its site, it lists about 2 million rooms—as many as the Wyndham, Hilton, and Marriott chains combined. Those three hoteliers averaged a combined annual profit of $2.3 billion from 2013 to 2015, according to their Securities and Exchange Commission filings, and paid hundreds of millions of dollars a year in U.S. federal taxes.

Uber processes payments for rides outside the U.S. through the Netherlands, a company official testified at the hearing in Australia. Last fall, Fortune reported that, according to presentations to investors, Uber had assigned its IP to the tax haven of Bermuda, leaving less than 2 percent of its net revenue taxable by the U.S.

Outside the U.S., there have been a few recent attempts to crack down on corporate tax avoidance. In January the U.K. instituted the “Google Tax,” a 25 percent levy on any profit deemed improperly diverted, and Ireland began eliminating some loopholes, including the infamous “Double Irish,” last year. Google says it’s not subject to the Google Tax, and accountants are already pitching comparable alternatives to the Double Irish in Malta and the United Arab Emirates.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development is crafting more technical ways to block profit shifting. “We can debate whether most of the value of a platform is created in Silicon Valley, where it was developed, or in Ireland, where it is managed, or wherever the service is delivered,” says Pascal Saint-Amans, director of the OECD Tax Centre. “You cannot reasonably argue that value is created in the tax haven where the platform’s only presence is a shell company.”

As home to most of the big companies involved and the only major country that taxes its multinationals’ worldwide income, the U.S. likely has the most at stake. In deadlocked Washington, the Obama administration’s proposals have included a minimum tax of 19 percent on U.S. corporations’ global earnings, regardless of whether the money ends up in the U.S., as well as stricter limits on deferral of overseas income and use of corporate structures that leave some income untaxed by any country.

“At some point, something has to be done,” says Reuven Avi-Yonah, an international tax professor at the University of Michigan Law School. “We just have to hope that it happens before too much revenue is lost.”

The bottom line: Airbnb’s more than 40 subsidiaries may help the company lower its tax bill in the U.S. and other countries.

29 Apr 04:00


(1) That shopping cart is full of AirHeads, and (2) I died at 41 from what the AirHeads company spokesperson called 'probably natural causes.'
29 Apr 06:35



28 Apr 09:38

Random couscous snaps into beautiful patterns

Lucas Vigroux

We've all seen some variation of this but this one has nice explanations. Also the best title. Saved for (much) later so my hypothetical children will think I'm God.

Visit my blog here: Follow me on twitter here: Buy nerdy maths things here:
27 Apr 14:09

Une pompe à savon qui ravira petits et grands

27 Apr 13:17

La B.O. d'Aliens, le retour en sang de xenomorph

Lucas Vigroux



Vous kiffez terriblement la B.O. d'Aliens, le retour composée par James Horner et avez toujours caressé le rêve secret qu'un jour, dans le futur, quelqu'un parviendrait à presser ce vinyle avec du sang de xenomorph ? Ne rêvez plus, le futur est arrivé : Curtis Godino vient de réaliser votre vieux fantasme. Manque de bol pour vous, les 75 exemplaires de cette merveille ont été sold-out au bout de deux secondes de mise en vente ; à vous de surveiller frénétiquement eBay pour espérer mettre la main dessus.





26 Apr 10:44

Why the Renaissance man – and woman – is making a comeback

by Lee Scott, Subject Leader in Creative Computing

As anyone who has visited the London Science Museum’s current exhibition will know, Leonardo da Vinci is famed as an artist, mathematician, inventor, writer … the list goes on. He was a figure who did not see disciplines as a chequerboard of independent black and white tiles, but a vibrant palette of colour ready to be combined harmoniously and gracefully. Today, the polymath may seem like a relic of the past. But with an emerging drive towards interdisciplinarity in research and across the tech and creative sectors, the Renaissance man – and woman – is making a comeback.

Not just an artist: Leonardo’s studies of the foetus in the womb.

Often cited as the archetypal “Renaissance man”, Leonardo came from an era in which the well-rounded individual, prolific and curious of mind, was highly valued. A comprehensive education was the marker of a gentleman. Universities were seats of broad learning, tasked with preparing future apprentices by encouraging them to interrogate and question many aspects of science, philosophy, theology and the arts.

The typical contemporary university is rather different. Targeted learning dominates today, particularly in the UK. Students are forced to specialise earlier and earlier – to be a doctor before you’re 30, you’ll need to know that you want to practice medicine by the time you’re 16. Undergraduate students are trying desperately to align themselves with what seems like a universal drive towards hyper-specialism. A 2015 report by Universities UK, revealed a boom in higher education entrants pursuing specialised subject areas such as business and administration studies, engineering and the biological sciences. In the same year, combined award degree enrolment saw a sharp decline of 54%.

This is perhaps to be expected. Incoming students are simply responding to a professional world that is extremely competitive, and so see hyperspecialism as a way of distinguishing themselves from the crowd. But monomath ubiquity has its pitfalls.

Within the sciences, experts quickly get out of touch with content beyond their immediate area and become siloed. Within the arts, those who gravitate towards a single practice such as creative writing, acting or photography often sidestep the benefits that multidisciplinarity lends to creativity. Super focused, one-track graduates run the risk of slipping off the career ladder should they wish or need to transition between fields in years to come.

The contemporary polymath

Individuals who set out to be proficient at many things are rare. Practitioners who cross the arts/sciences chasm seem few and far between. But this is unlikely to be true for much longer when we consider that some of the fastest growing and most influential fields of research – such as global sustainability or bioinformatics – straddle, distort and even disregard traditional discipline boundaries. Take “serious games”, a category of game design that attempts to solve real world problems. With applications in education, psychology, the military, archiving and healthcare, it is easy to appreciate the value of a serious games developer who can operate fluidly across multiple subject areas.

For new economies to emerge, and breakthroughs to be made, we need multi-specialised lateral thinkers who can connect the dots in unexpected ways. We need contemporary Leonardos. We need 21st century polymaths.

Tech companies such as Google understand this, and look for ways to expose their employees to methods of thinking that fall outside their immediate experience. Talks at Google was launched precisely for this reason. The programme invites fantasy writers, top chefs, fringe comedians, and popular musicians into Google HQ to talk about their art.

Last year saw Micheal Moore critiquing US international strategy in “Where to Invade Next”, cast members of the West End’s The Illusionist revealing insights into the world of magic, and Magnus Nilsson sharing the nuances of Nordic food culture. Talks at Google serves as a forum for internal enrichment, with an expectation that encountering the myriad ways in which the minds of its presenters are wired will jolt its employees into thinking outside of the box.

This sort of cross-pollination isn’t limited to the tech giants either. It’s a big deal in research. Major UK and EU funding bodies such as Horizon 2020 and the Arts and Humanities Research Council prioritise interdisciplinary collaboration, looking favourably on bids that cut across fields of study. Some of this year’s “hot themes” that bring together scientists, designers, artists and technologists collide virtual reality with heritage, smart device app development with healthcare, and big data with climatology. The success of such research relies on open minded, inquisitive people who know enough about one another’s disciplines to find meaningful points of synergy.

Our universities should strive to nurture this type of individual. One that rejects the frankly artificial confines that currently exist. One that has the ability to identify novel resonances between disciplines that others just don’t see.

Polymathism in the 21st century is no longer about “mastering” multiple fields of study, nor is it about being a generalist. It’s about acquiring a set of critical attributes that allow one to excel across subject areas as opportunities occur, and to negotiate interdisciplinary collaboration with a critical eye, and an informed outlook.

The Conversation

Lee Scott does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond the academic appointment above.

25 Apr 12:17

"Nantes: Mécontent de la quiche aux épinards, il tente de faire la peau à sa belle-fille"

“Nantes: Mécontent de la quiche aux épinards, il tente de faire la peau à sa belle-fille”

- 20Minutes (à cause de Patrick)
25 Apr 11:22


Lucas Vigroux

Belle qualité de masque

gnMm9TlUn trio aperçu à Monsterpalooza

25 Apr 08:28

A chacun ses fantasmes mon bon monsieur


21 Apr 14:24


Lucas Vigroux

oh oui! Qualité NRF


Un montage prestige posté par la discothèque O'Klub pour promouvoir sa soirée spéciale sextoys. Ne manquez pas ce rendez-vous.

(Merci à Florentin pour la suggestion)

19 Apr 07:50

Faites des gosses


18 Apr 09:24

Comédien, ce métier méconnu

Lucas Vigroux


14 Apr 14:56

Mimi Cracra l'eau elle aime ça


#mackenzievswater 🙋💦 updated compilation

Une vidéo publiée par Mackenzie Stith (@mackenziestith) le

13 Apr 17:00

Ding dong


10 Apr 18:55

Et bonne nuit à tous

Lucas Vigroux

Gloire au tenebreux Cthulhu!

11 Apr 09:08

Celui ou celle qui trouve ce jeu de mots de prestige gagne notre respect éternel

ppr balladur

(Solution et source à venir)

08 Apr 06:39

Espoir pour tous

07 Apr 09:44

La vérité sur BB-8


06 Apr 07:52

L'art subtil de la calligraphie

06 Apr 09:48

«Tu as un rêve, tu dois le protéger. Ceux qui en sont incapables te diront que tu en es incapable. Si tu veux quelque chose, bats-toi. Point final», Will Smith

(Via les internets)
31 Mar 17:17


by Mandrill Johnson

25 Mar 14:05

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Bedroom Experimentation


Hovertext: Can you at least appreciate how clever my word choice was?

New comic!
Today's News:

Desperately hoping no else has made the exact same joke... 

21 Mar 15:54

La coupe de Donald Trump est tendance à Groland

20 Mar 14:31

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - What's Sex?


Hovertext: Also, some of your friends will be more like a rundown playground than Disneyland.

New comic!
Today's News:
16 Mar 00:00

The elephant in the room we can’t ignore

by Colin Macilwain

The elephant in the room we can’t ignore

Nature 531, 7594 (2016).

Author: Colin Macilwain

If Donald Trump were to trigger a crisis in Western democracy, scientists would need to look at their part in its downfall, says Colin Macilwain.

15 Mar 15:26

Je danse le Jingle

Lucas Vigroux

Bravo, je valide a 100%


Le jingle SNCF


Le jingle Samsung


Le jingle Décathlon

(Merci à Anne-Cécile pour la suggestion)

15 Mar 14:34

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Billions and billions



New comic!
Today's News:
12 Mar 19:44

Boob swap

Lucas Vigroux

Enfin une app utile!

10 Mar 23:45

Découvrez le nombre d'esclaves à votre service

Capture d’écran 2016-03-10 à 17.06.53
Je mesure plus d’un mètre 80. J’essaye de marcher droit dans mes baskets aux semelles fabriquées par des enfants chinois. Quand je mange, beaucoup de produits peu coûteux, je ne cherche pas la provenance des aliments qu’on mixe dans mes mets industriels. Le samedi, souvent, je sors écouter de la musique, en voiture ou en transports. Ou au casque. 42 esclaves auraient déjà travaillé à assouvir mon petit bonheur personnel.
Ce chiffre, je l’ai appris en répondant aux 11 questions de l’enquête de Slavery Footprint “How many slaves work for you ?” (2011, #old). Comment mangez-vous ? Combien de consoles de jeux vidéo ? Avez-vous un trois pièces ? En 11 étapes, découvrez combien de paires de petites mains ont a priori oeuvré pour que vous puissiez regarder de la télé-réalité avec une canette de chose sucrée. Et rassurez-vous, même en répondant de manière très basse, vous aurez quand même un score d'esclavagiste. Il n'y a pas de perdant à ce petit jeu. 
Vous pouvez compter vos esclaves au boulot en cliquant ici.