Trump’s reelection campaign ended 2017 with $22 million in cash

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign ended 2017 with $22 million in cash — helped by $6.9 million in contributions in the fourth quarter of the year, his campaign announced on Wednesday.

Qualcomm earnings top estimates on surge in modem chip sales

(Reuters) – Chipmaker Qualcomm Inc’s earnings and revenue exceeded Wall Street forecasts for the first fiscal quarter as demand surged for its chips used in smartphones and cars, making up for a fall in licensing revenue.

Vancouver Mining Company Turquoise Hill Accused Of Avoiding Nearly Half A Billion In Taxes

Rio Tinto's Oyu Tolgoi mine in Mongolia's South Gobi region, June 23, 2012. Rio Tinto and its Canadian subsidiary, Turquoise Hill Resources, have been accused of avoiding US$470 million in Canadian taxes relating to the Oyu Tolgoi mine's financing.

Vancouver-based Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd. was accused Wednesday by a Dutch non-profit of avoiding hundreds of millions of dollars in Canadian taxes through the use of tax havens.

The report by the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations, known as SOMO, said Turquoise Hill parent company Rio Tinto used so-called mailbox companies in the Netherlands and Luxembourg to channel financing of the massive Oyu Tolgoi mine, bypassing the higher taxes the company would have paid in Canada.

Had Turquoise Hill directly reaped the profits from its Mongolian operations, rather than have its Luxembourg subsidiary count them, it would have paid US$470 million more over seven years, the report said.

“This use of mailbox companies to gain illegitimate access to tax treaty benefits is considered by the OECD as treaty abuse,” wrote the authors.

Watch: Leaked “Paradise Papers” documents reveal tax havens of the world’s wealthy

Turquoise Hill challenged the report as having significant inaccurate or unsubstantiated facts, without specifying the apparent errors in the report.

“Turquoise Hill believes that our tax practices are not only compliant with local laws, international standards and voluntary commitments, but that Oyu Tolgoi’s operation is making substantial contributions to Mongolia’s economy and long-term development,” the company said in a statement.

Rio Tinto, which owns 51 per cent of Turquoise Hill, challenged the report’s findings and said the governments of Canada and Mongolia had approved the structure.

“The flawed SOMO report contains a number of unsubstantiated and incorrect allegations regarding tax,” Rio Tinto said in a statement.

Earlier on HuffPost Canada:

The company said it is paying its fair share of tax in Mongolia, and is one of the country’s largest taxpayers with upward of US$1.8 billion in taxes and royalties paid between 2010 and 2017.

Mongolia terminated the tax treaties with the Netherlands and Luxembourg in 2013 that allowed Rio Tinto to access lower tax rates, but the company was able to continue to use the lower rates because of clauses in an investment agreement it signed in 2009.

The government tried to renegotiate tax issues, but after Rio Tinto agreed to some concessions, the government left in the lower rate as part of an agreement reached in 2015, depriving it of an estimated US$230 million in taxes, the report said.

The agreements were ratified based on transparent, factual information and on terms comparable with other mining operations globally, Rio Tinto said.

But Mongolia does not appear to be satisfied, starting a new tax dispute last month when it sent a US$155 million tax bill to the owners of Oyu Tolgoi.

CRA sees deal as legal

Canadians should also be dissatisfied with the current arrangement, said MiningWatch Canada outreach co-ordinator Jamie Kneen.

He said the Canada Revenue Agency has challenged Cameco Corp. and Wheaton Precious Metals for their apparent use of tax havens to channel profits through, so it’s not clear why the CRA has apparently approved the Turquoise Hill arrangement.

“Here’s one that CRA has deemed to be legal, and it’s depriving Canada of millions in revenue and its not at all clear why they would do that.”

Also on HuffPost:

Pandora is laying off about 5 percent of its workforce as it shifts to more automated ads

 Streaming music service Pandora is laying off about five percent of its employee base and taking “other cost-saving measures” in an attempt to save about $45 million annually. According to Pandora’s 8-K filing, employees were notified today of the plan and the company expects the staff reduction to be complete by the end of Q1 2018. Read More

Soraa’s new light bulbs skip the smart home and focus on the science of the color spectrum

 Everyone’s trying to build a better light bulb. These days, that means things like adjustable colors and smart home connectivity. Bay Area startup Soraa is skipping all the noise for the moment, instead making color its primary focus. For five years, the company’s been producing products for places like art galleries and hotels, where color balance is a big part of the experience. Read More

Ebay posts loss for holiday quarter as it books $3.1 billion tax charge

(Reuters) – EBay Inc posted a loss for the key holiday quarter on Wednesday as it booked a $3.1 billion charge from the recent changes in U.S. tax laws.

Ancient tools found in India undermine the “out of Africa” hypothesis

Nature

Scientists have unveiled an extraordinary new analysis of thousands of stone tools found at a site called Attirampakkam in India, northwest of Chennai in Tamil Nadu. Thanks to new dating techniques, a team led by archaeologist Shanti Pappu determined that most of the tools are between 385,000 and 172,000 years old. What makes these dates noteworthy is that they upend the idea that tool-making was transformed in India after an influx of modern Homo sapiens came from Africa starting about 130,000 years ago.

According to these findings, hominins in India were making tools that looked an awful lot like what people were making in Africa almost 250,000 years before they encountered modern humans. This is yet another piece of evidence that the “out of Africa” process was a lot messier and more complex than previously thought.

Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

U.S. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin urges Congress to raise debt ceiling as another shutdown looms

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Wednesday called on the Republican-controlled Congress to lift the federal debt limit “as soon as possible” so the government can pay employee benefits and other obligations.