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In this week’s news, the Lloyds Banking Group has “narrowed its pre-tax losses for 2012 to £570m from £3.5bn the previous year.” Forty per cent of the company is owned by the government.

The group also said that “its losses were primarily because of making provisions of £3.6bn for the mis-selling of payment protection insurance.”

Tax Reclamation is now essential

After the passing of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act in the U.S., foreign financial institutions are increasingly looking for help and services in reporting income and investments for US citizens.

This makes tax reclamation and claim filing services essential. Michael Bancroft, a CPA in Wilmington, Delaware, comments that “the importance of effective tax reclamation on cross-border securities earnings is ripe.”

Goal Group can help

Goal Group, located in London, focuses on a variety of services for a wide range of companies. One of their services is withholding tax solutions including GTRS, GOAL TaxBack, Tax Guru, and GDMS.

Their own research has even shown that “in excess of $10 billion of withholding tax remains unclaimed each year by the rightful owners and beneficiaries.”

Their solutions facilitate the reclamation of circa $11 billion per annum. They assist their clients to benefit from relief at source wherever practicable and possible to do so.

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A class action lawsuit is filed on the part of a number of individuals who happen to have been in some way damaged by the activities of a company. It is common to find class action lawsuits filed by employees of the corporation if hiring or even wages procedures appear to have been illegitimate. Another variety is the class action lawsuit filed against a drug company for making illegal claims about their product, or even for resulting in fatalities or bodily damage to individuals taking the substance.

Whenever one subscribes a class action suit, one usually has to sign documents declaring that he or she then forfeits the right to claim damages to the corporation as a particular person. A good class action law suit honours damages to the plaintiffs, who are all those suing the firm, in accordance to biggest cause damage. In most all cases not all members of the litigation are entitled to equal compensation. Usually the lawyers operate on a contingency basis, which means that they are going to get a portion from the designation. On the other hand, they won’t charge their clients any fees if the suit isn’t successful. That percentage could be substantial, between 30 to 50 per cent from the total award.

Awards from a class action lawsuit are split directly into 2 amounts: punitive and compensatory damages. Compensatory damages are meant to tackle the defendants (those being sued), and direct injury. These funds are going to be used to tackle actual damages inflicted by the defendants, such as illness, loss of life, or pain and suffering. Punitive losses from the class action lawsuit are a form of penalisation for the corporation committing illegal behaviours, or inflicting damage. Punitive damages in large class action lawsuits can be particularly high, whenever it is demonstrated the corporation has demonstrated great disregard for the wellness, safety or emotional wellbeing of the victims.

Class actions may become jury trials, or perhaps may be resolved prior to a trial. A suit can be tried in directed mediation. Settlements and negotiation mean that injuries are agreed upon by the defendant/s. Jury trial class action lawsuits can create problems because a corporation levelled with heavy punitive and compensatory damages can appeal the decision. The appeal process may go on for several years, so plaintiffs might have to hold on a long time prior to seeing any money. Corporations can also declare insolvency, which means the plaintiffs may never be awarded anything.

One of the most well-known class action lawsuit is explored in the film Erin Brockovich. The film is a biopic detailing the class action suit on behalf of the residents of Hinkley, California. They sued Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) for lying about using the chemical hexavalent chromium, which then seeped into the ground water and contaminated the water supply. Many residents of Hinkley then became ill with cancer, or had fertility problems. As well, animals living in the small town died quickly.

The suit’s lawyer Ed Masry was able to establish that PG&E knew about the situation and deliberately risked the lives of those living near the power plants by failing to warn the residents. Erin Brockovich, played by Julia Roberts in the film, extensively researched and documented the damages caused to Hinkley residents. Her dedication helped secure the successful verdict against PG&E. Ed Masry chose directed mediation for the class action lawsuit, meaning those severely affected by exposure to chromium were given immediate monetary relief.

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A class action typically arises when a large number of people believe they have been caused harm, or have been negatively affected by a corporation. If the defendant is well-known, the case becomes high profile in the media.

Here, we take a look at the five biggest class actions in terms of damages sought.

5. Exxon-Mobil

$5 billion (later reduced to $500 million)

In 2001, a federal judge ordered Exxon-Mobil to pay $5 billion to the thousands of people affected by the Exxon Valdez oil spill. The spill occurred in Prince Williams Sound, Alaska in March 1989 when an oil tanker struck a reef. It spilled up to the highest estimate of 750, 000 barrels of crude oil.

Billed as a considerable environmental disaster, it affected over 1,300 miles of coastline.

The $5 billion paid punitive damages and interest to workers and natives of Alaska.

4. World Com

$6.2 billion

In 2005, investors in Word Com launched a class action lawsuit. The lawsuits were aimed at the company, and employees Bernard Ebbers (CEO), Scott Sullivan (CFO), David Myers (Controller) and Buford Yates (Accounting Director).

The charges brought up were for fraud, with World Com having discrepancies in their books of over $11 billion, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission. In particular, they were seen to have inflated revenue by inputting false statements.

3. Enron

$7.2 billion

Arguably the most famous class action suit, the energy-trader collapsed at the same time as World Com, also amidst charges of fraud. Investors filed under federal and state securities laws, targeting the company and directors Jeffrey Skilling and Ken Lay.

The class action settlement was a huge $7.2 billion, the largest pay out so far in a shareholder securities action. The money was used to compensate shareholders whose stock became worthless during the company’s collapse.

2. Wal-Mart

Seeking $11 billion

Filed in 2000, this pending case involves a female employee of Wal-mart suing them under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for sexual discrimination. The woman claims she was denied promotion because of her gender.

Changing to a class action case, it now represents every female employee of Wal-Mart from 1998, involving tens of thousands of people.

It is the largest class action involving sexual discrimination in history,

1. Master Tabacco Settlement

$206 billion over 25 years

The largest class action settlement by far was agreed in 1998. Involving six Tabacco giants – Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation, Lorillard Tobacco Company, Philip Morris Incorporates, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, Commonwealth Tobacco, and Liggett & Myers, the huge sum releases the companies from further litigation in state courts.

The lawsuits were filed under consumer protection and anti-trust laws and the money will go towards the recovery of smoking-related health care costs, and to enforce laws to reduce smoking rates in people under the age of eighteen.

This was seen as a moral victory by many, which could have long term benefits for class action settlements.

It is important to note, when a case is settled, the defendant agrees to pay damages but does not admit wrongdoing.

 

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New Taxes for France

The problem of taxation  tax reclaim solutions has always been complicated, no matter the times, no matter the countries.

The French media has recently been dominated by the news that Bernard Arnault, chief executive of Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy tried to reducehistax bill by seeking Belgian citizenship.  The news truly sheltered the tycoon’s status who managed to split the French into two battlefields: the one for whom Arnault is a symbol of the “selfish rich” and the other one for whom he is the standard bearer for the tax-bludgeoned entrepreneur trying to create jobs and wealth.

Arnault’s visit to Brussels also generated questions and worries as once he has dual nationality, the businessman could theoretically renounce his French citizenship and move to the Riviera principality where Belgian nationals – but not French citizens – can live tax-free.

The 75% tax band for those earning over € 1m will give France the highest tax rate in Europe, while a a 45% band is to be introduced on incomes over €150,000 a year (up from 41%) and households will be limited to a maximum €10,000 savings on tax reduction schemes (down from €18,000), the Guardian informs us.

The most interesting reaction came from Jean-Philippe Delsol, a tax lawyer and member of the IREF economic think-tank which supports “economic freedom” who said that:  “If you are wealthy in the UK, there is no hate. There may be envy and scorn, but there is no hate, real hate like there is in France. We like everyone to be the same and if they are different we detest them.”

The real problem is that even low earners will pay more income tax after the household allowance is reduced from €2,336 to €2,000 a year.

Asked about Arnault, the French president resorted to what being a true French means, a patriot who, in order to win the battle against debt, must make the effort of higher taxes.

But Delsol said that “Even Henry IV’s minister Barthélémy de Laffemas in the 16th century understood that high taxes kill the total revenues.”

 

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Class Action Services

Today people are more creative with their money. It is common to see people use their money to make more money. An ordinary practice is to invest in a company, for example, buying shares and thus, becoming a shareholder in a company and receive dividends hopefully making a fruitful profit.

It sounds too good to be true. However there is always risk in financial ventures, as there must be.  In the blink of an eye, the market you invested in could ‘crash’ or the business itself can go bankrupt.

When an unfortunate event like this occurs, you need professional help to reclaim your assets that are tied up in the business. As it is a very complicated and length process legal assistance is, most of the time, needed.

It is not your fault that the company failed so why should you pay for someone else’s mistake with your hard earned money? Yes, it is true that there are risks involved with investing, you can still have some security for when times like this occurs.

With this in mind, who can you turn to? There are many companies that offer services in class action settlement services. An example of such a company is Goal Group which is widely acknowledged in the class action lawsuit market and financial services sector for its innovative and creative solutions particularly in getting investors money back due to miss-management of the company.

What makes Goal Group stand out is that they offer an extremely niche service and have developed bespoke documentation management software and tax software. The company’s solutions include:

In addition to this, Goal Group also partners with many well known companies such as, Interactive Data Corporation,  MintTwist Ltd, Today Translations and many more. They are also advised by companies such as, Lambert Chapman LLP, Barclays Corporate Banking and Pritchard Englefield.

Their clients are globally based and include hedge funds, local government agencies, private banks, high net worth individuals, investment banks and prime brokers, who ass use Goal Group’s services to be more efficient, cautious and profitable.

Indeed, Goal Group can help soften the blow in the time of a financial crisis.

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