Source: National Post
A cesspool of hypocrisy. I advise that everyone always pay your taxes.
Christine Lagarde, the IMF boss who upset Greeks last week when she lectured them about paying their taxes, pays no tax on her salary and benefits of $550,000.
Lagarde got herself in hot water on Friday when Britain’s The Guardian printed an interview in which she expressed little sympathy for the plight of the Greek economy, or for struggling Greeks.
“I think more of the little kids from a school in a little village in Niger who get teaching two hours a day, sharing one chair for three of them, and who are very keen to get an education,” she said. “I have them in my mind all the time. Because I think they need even more help than the people in Athens.”
Lagarde, predicting that the debt crisis has yet to run its course, adds: “Do you know what? As far as Athens is concerned, I also think about all those people who are trying to escape tax all the time. All these people in Greece who are trying to escape tax.” She says she thinks “equally” about Greeks deprived of public services and Greek citizens not paying their tax.
“I think they should also help themselves collectively.” Asked how, she replies: “By all paying their tax.”
The remarks stirred considerable anger. Thousands of angry messages were posted on her Facebook page, prompting Lagarde to respond that she was “very sympathetic to the Greek people and the challenges they are facing”.
Now The Guardian and other publications have added to the furor by revealing that, as an employee of an international agency, Largarde makes more than the U.S. president but pays no taxes on her salary of $467,940 a year plus $83,760 in allowances.
The same applies to nearly all United Nations employees – article 34 of the Vienna convention on diplomatic relations of 1961, which has been signed by 187 states, declares: “A diplomatic agent shall be exempt from all dues and taxes, personal or real, national, regional or municipal.”
According to Lagarde’s contract she is also entitled to a pay rise on 1 July every year during her five-year contract.
An IMF spokesman told reporters that are free of tax “to ensure equal pay for equal work regardless of nationality.” He said Ms Lagarde does pay all other “taxes levied on her, including local and property taxes in the US and France”.
That’s unlikely to appease critics ion Greece or in France, where Ms. Lagarde previously served as finance minister. Current French minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem told Canal+ TV: “I find [her point of view] rather simplistic and stereotypical. I think that these days it shouldn’t be about trying to teach people a lesson.”