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Are nation states going to start competing for Middle-Class taxes?

From time to time I’d like to launch a thought-provoking idea, just to start a potentially interesting discussion. I haven’t quite figured out the answer to the first one, but here goes. In the light of wildly differing income taxation rates, growing population mobility and decreasing meaning of nationality, are nation states going to start competing for the income tax of the Middle Class, at some point? While this idea might seem out there, just indulge me for one moment and take a ride on my train of thought.

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Western e-commerce beware

Amazon and better be mindful about future competition. With Michael Zhang’s expansionist plans and an increased European Alibaba presence, the Alibaba group seems to gearing up rapidly. As an example of the difference on consumer level, check out the price difference for the exact same voice recorder: EUR 59.95 at and EUR 11.42 (USD 12.66) at The era of the high-margin flip and dropship is almost over.



Mystery of this hyper-connected age

In this age of anything, anytime and anywhere it still astounds me how so many people are prepared to pay multiple times for resources that are available freely and are just a click away. Without giving it a second thought, people happily pay on separate occasions for commodities that were available for free to begin with. Music, for example, has basically become a commodity: wherever you buy a song, it always sounds the same. Yet paying for it in the record store, on iTunes and in Spotify is common … while you can listen to virtually any song at any time for free. Contemporary marketing has really mastered psychological framing.



Good housekeeping

What is the sensible thing to do when supermarkets start offering buy one get one free promotions on premium non-perishable ingredients? Head over, buy a few and fill up the cart on other products? *wrong* Head over, build up a stock and buy nothing else whatsoever. 🙂 #stickinittotheman



Belgian masterclass: VAT as a tool to shift taxes to multinationals

At some point in the future, you might find yourself ruling a country where you are able to take more than 50% of the top of the salaries of all nationals. What to do with all those funds burning a hole in your pocket? Obviously, you first make sure that your budget has a deficit. You’ll soon realize that your nationals still have some disposable income left, which is sacrilege. Additionally, the utility company you sold to your neighboring country has really got you in a pinch, so you might as well pay them off. Here is how is an easy three-step plan to grab some more cash, inconspicuously.

  1. Lower the VAT rate on electricity. Your nationals will go bonkers and sing your praise for quite a while.
  2. At the same time, let the energy company raise their prices. No one will notice and if they do, just blame the market prices.
  3. Recuperate your tax income loss by raising the VAT rate again and present it in a policy with a catchy name, like Tax Shift, that promises a net lowering of taxes. Don’t forget to set an elevated threshold, so most people can’t benefit from the lower taxes.

Topic for next class: raise the age of retirement. You’ll be able to collect taxes for additional years, and get this … you’ll save on pension payments. That’s a double whammy 🙂



Budget-tip: hoe telecom-tarieven vergelijken

In mijn zoektocht naar het beste telefoon- en televisie-abonnement voor mijn grootmoeder zag ik na een kwartiertje zoeken het bos niet meer door de bomen. TelenetBelgacom Proximus en consoorten maken er op hun respectievelijke websites een spelletje van om de bezoeker te verwarren en van het kastje naar de muur te sturen. Wanneer je echter dieper graaft, komt iets zeer interessants naar boven: de gestandaardiseerde infofiches van het BIPT die ze verplicht beschikbaar moeten stellen. Daarin worden alle tarieven op exact dezelfde wijze voorgesteld, wat ze vergelijkbaar maakt. Hieronder vind je ze terug voor Telenet en Proximus.


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