Final Word from Tuesday, October 4, 2011

It's rare for a finance ministry to take advantage of the very kind of tax loophole thatthe guardians of the state coffers normally try to eliminate. Yet it seems that MiroslavKalousek has learned a trick from Zuno Bank that makes it possible for him topromote the new retail government bonds to investors as tax-free instruments. Itinvolves pricing the bonds at Kč 1, so that the tax is rounded down to zero. (Zunoachieves the same result by accruing interest daily.) We'll never know who is benefitingthe most from Kalousek's little trick, because of bank-secrecy rules. But they arelikely the very kind of people who voted to name Kalousek the best finance ministerin emerging Europe. Kalousek is not only paying them an above-market interestrate, but he's also waiving the withholding tax. At least the little people who entrusttheir money to Zuno can rest assured that their own tax break will last awhile.

Glossary of difficult words

Tricky Mirek - an allusion to "Tricky Dick," which was Nixon’s nickname;

loophole - an ambiguity or inadequacy in the law or a set of rules;

to accrue - to accumulate, receive or pay;

to waive - to refrain from insisting on or using (a right or claim);

to rest assured - to feel or be confident.

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