The News Daily some time ago ran a fascinating article on how Norfolk Island's tax laws are being utilised by on-line gambling syndicates for tax advantage. This is nothing new as the off-shore tax industry commonly referred to as tax havens have been around for years.
The tax haven industry benefits everyone as strange as it might seem. It is a ready source of money when natural disasters strike and nations need to find quick money to meet the costs associated with disaster management and repair.
These are places where countries, business, corporations and individuals can park money securely without the unnecessary burden of tax where the same monies under national taxation law can in effect be taxed several times.
But there has been a mammoth publicity effort to have these tax havens come under severe restriction but to date, nothing much has been achieved, nor is it in the interest of national governments. So many people are engaged in self interest and ultimately the buck stops there. But Swiss Banks for Australians have now come under scrutiny.
I have on file an article from the 1990's with the headline that Telstra had parked money in a Caribbean tax haven and not an eye lid was battered. At that time a Senate Enquiry has been running into large companies placing profits into such tax havens.
A more restrictive approach took place after 9/11 with the passing of the Patriot Act where all monies passing through the US system had to be verified. This was to place a heavy burden on terrorist income streams, and it had an effect. Such monies were transferred through Europe and we know about the protests of the Islamtisation of Europe. Greece might be going under, but not the big European banks with so much being transferred hither and thither.
In the case of Norfolk Island, a community founded by descendants of the 18th Century Bounty mutiny, has some unique attributes that have managed to capture corporate attention. For example, it has cheap bookmaking licenses. There's also the remarkable lack of a requirement for individuals and companies to pay income tax, despite the fact they enjoy the many benefits of Australian citizenship.
Someone in the Federal and NSW Governments have been jumping on the bandwagon and shouting from the roof tops to "cough up" tax dollars. Britain had a similar display of chasing the tax dollar from companies using the Gibraltar tax haven situation. We’re still waiting to see what happens.
For many years missionaries had to undertake an uniform study on overseas banking and monies were required to be transferred from home nations to where ever the missionary was situated.
Today there are a little easier methodologies as long as there are ATMs at banks and the missionary's card has the international banking symbol. But not everyone is near a bank that has such a facility but there are other quite handy ways to have monies transferred such as, an example being, Western Union transfers there are a host of companies in this ilk.
There are off-shore banking seminars for missionaries as well, and these too can be very handy to understand how their systems work and how to get money from off-shore accounts. It's not by any means illegal to operate an off-shore account as long as you follow international rules and exercise a legitimate international business. Governments recognise missions societies in this way.
International Aid societies function similarly, they need to and no one disputes any of this. Governments pour millions of dollars annually into AID societies under specific contracts to fulfill approved projects. This is the way it works.
We held an Around the Tables missionary function in Sydney where some of these issues came up. A helping attorney at law attended one of the sessions with the missionaries and it turned out they were more aware of how it all worked out in practical terms than he, as they were using these systems month after month when serving on the mission field.
Whether in the future Governments place restrictions where missionaries get caught up in such scenarios we are yet to see. We know that in Australia the Government has tracked down huge amount of money transfers supporting ISIS but whether they would chase a $200 donation to an overseas missionary is an unknown at this time.
What is known is that the bad guys know how the systems work too, and they seem to keep one step ahead by having monies moved from one jurisdiction to another. So the merry-go-round happens. But sometimes, just sometimes the good-guys get in first. The Government now has the legislation to read encrypted messages,
Our prayer is that the few dollars that missionaries get are not caught up in this necessary labyrinth of security.
Government Oversees Charity Bank
One suggestion might be for the Government to open a national charity bank (one account system for Christian missions, a separate one for NGO's, again one for other religious charities, and the like. This may be a better way to keep a check for all such legitimate and vetted overseas missions, NGO’s, and other religious charities - all registered - their monies to overseas aid and mission work is channelled.
Perhaps the ACNC (Australian Charities Not-For-Profit Commission) might consider a wing to engage in such an overseas funds Charity Bank.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children. Dr Tronson writes a daily article for Christian Today Australia (since 2008) and in November 2016 established Christian Today New Zealand.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html