Fireworks explode around the London Eye during New Year celebrations in London last year (Photo: Reuters)
Fireworks explode around the London Eye during New Year celebrations in London last year (Photo: Reuters)Reuters

As we enter 2014, some of IBTimes UK's business journalists detail what New Year's Resolutions they hope for, across banking, politics and tax.

Lianna Brinded | Banks Stepping Out of the Shade

How can the public ever trust their local or global lender ever again?

The public is still being kept relatively in the dark, by the banks' wall of engineered communication silence, unless it is honoured by the presence of myriad well-prepped puff pieces, adverts, or rosy news.

Frankly, the public are getting pretty fed up of hearing about the seemingly never-ending raft of banking scandals, while at the same time having to swallow news of inventive ways in how financiers are being paid eye-watering bonuses.

The anger that is perpetually rising is because, most of the time, we are kept in the dark about any negative news until the Mouth of Sauron (Lord of the Rings fans will get this) announce an explosive fine, settlement, or huge revelation, rather than being kept in the loop.

What's more, reading the same 'declined to comment' statements until the truth is forced out by a regulator, rubs salt in the wound for the billions around the world that have bailed out the banks when their employees were reckless and caused a weeping and open sore in the global financial markets.

Banks should make a New Year's Resolution to be more open and honest with the public which will not only benefit the fallout of any new or legacy issues but will also create a dialogue with those who prop up their huge salaries and bail them out in times of need.

Some banks are better than others at this and - guess what - are winning back customers, their trust, and market share as a result.

Michael Klimes | Less Bureaucracy in Brussels

Europeans need to rediscover their belief in the European Union as they have become increasingly cynical and disaffected with the political process in Brussels.

Across the continent, eurosceptic parties are on the march as voters have become increasingly nationalistic.

These voters are worried about their standard of living tied to such issues as immigration, the free movement of people allowed within in the EU and jobs.

In Britain, Ukip has been making headway and has attracted voters that are fed up with the mainstream parties that, they believe, are out of touch with their concerns.

The passionate disaffection Ukip represents towards mainstream politicians has been seen other EU members.

Politicians in Brussels and political elites have only themselves to blame as they have failed to communicate what phrases like "more Europe" or "European integration" actually means.

The politicians in Europe should make a New Year's Resolution to be honest with their electorates about realistic solutions to an EU that is divided, dispirited and is in need of courageous leadership.

The first sign of whether they are getting to grips with these issues will be the elections for the European Parliament in May 2014.

Ian Allison | Cracking Down on Corporate Tax Avoidance in Developing Countries

The New Year's resolution which developing countries should adopt is to stop signing away their tax jurisdiction in tax treaties with developed countries.

This means taking on what tax analyst Lee Sheppard describes as "the whole corporatocracy and its global privileges" - and it requires a degree of resolve.

The foundation for the tax privileges enjoyed by large multinational companies (MNCs) today, dates from international agreements made at the end of World War I.

Since the financial meltdown MNC tax minimisation is being called into question.

Under the auspices of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), model tax treaties purport to prevent tax being paid twice by a company, in its home country as well as in a source country, where it is carrying out business.

But OECD model treaties give the MNCs' home countries primary tax jurisdiction over income earned by MNCs in source (for which read market) countries.

That is, these treaties require source countries to agree to be deprived of legitimate tax jurisdiction over the income earned within. This is not a good contract to make, but many developing countries have been persuaded to sign treaties with developed countries whose MNCs stand astride the world.

By signing an OECD model bilateral double taxation treaty, a source country accepts: separate company accounting (which enables shell corporations); arm's-length transfer pricing (which enables income stripping); and permanent establishment (a limitation on tax jurisdiction over companies doing business).

South American countries do not sign OECD model tax treaties; India has taken steps to change its domestic tax laws to prevent MCNs denying their permanent establishment within it; and China is no longer allowing itself to be an "economic plantation" for the rest of the developed world, and is tightening its approach to corporate income tax accordingly.

Smaller, developing countries should do the same.

Lianna Brinded | UK Government to Close Tax Avoidance Loopholes

Staying within the same theme of tax avoidance, in the UK, more needs to be done to make major corporations pay their 'fair share'.

Before we get into the public's new favourite hobby of verbally flogging tech giants, coffee companies and energy groups paying perceivably small amounts of tax, compared to their overall profits, what they are all doing is entirely legal.

Therein lies the rub.

No amount of campaigning or chastising of the HM Revenue and Customs will make companies pay more than they need to. They already are staying well within the law and are only using clever accountants to make the best use of their time and efforts within the parameters of regulation.

The only way companies will pay more tax is if a number of tax avoidance loopholes are knotted and sealed by the government.

No amount of angry armchair socialists or mass protests will make groups hand over a bigger cheque to the tax man.

What the UK government needs to do, for instance, is to make it more difficult for companies to shuffle around sales and profits to other domiciles, which enjoy a corporation tax environment.