Financial news and advice — August 2016

A former accountant has been banned from filing lawsuits against Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, while a British salon chain is suggesting the government impose a “beard tax.”


Accountant sued firm, then Duchess of Cornwall

A former accountant at PricewaterhouseCoopers sued Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall at least 10 times without merit and has been banned from filing any other legal action against her without the permission of a judge, The Daily Telegraph reports. Mihaela Iuliana Popa, a Romanian-trained accountant who worked at the London office of PwC between 2004 and 2006, used an online service to launch the suits, claiming the Duchess owed her money. Popa had previously (and unsuccessfully) sued PwC in 2009 for sex and race discrimination, demanding compensation of £40 million ($76 million). The firm recently launched a countersuit against Popa, which brought the claims against Her Royal Highness to light.


Hairy debate over beard tax

A smiling redhead shows off his bright beard

The current trend of longer facial hair has no signs of receding, leading some to see it as a potential boon for the taxman. Antony Kent, owner of salon chain UK Barber Shops, has suggested the British government impose an annual tax of about $200 on the heavily hirsute, while those with beards shorter than 2 cm would face half that fee. The call met with criticism from the Beard Liberation Front, a group that campaigns against “beardism.” It argues that the revenue raised by a beard tax would amount to less than the cost to enforce it.


Inequality breeds greed, study finds

Rich people are stingier when they live in areas with high income inequality, according to a study from the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. Researchers combined data from a US survey of morality with a separate measurement of inequality in different jurisdictions. They found that wealthy individuals living in places with only modest gaps between the highest and lowest incomes are just as giving, if not more so, than anyone else. But rich folks living in areas with high income inequality were 20% less generous. A sense of entitlement or a fear of losing status may explain the difference, the researchers speculate. When there are smaller gaps in income, higher earners may not see themselves as so different from others and don’t have as far to fall economically by giving.


“Neglectful” offspring will take a credit hit

Call, write or visit your aging parents or your credit will suffer. That’s the case for adult children in Shanghai as of May 1, when the city enacted new policies under China’s 2013 Protection of the Rights and Interests of the Elderly law. The legislation requires those with parents over the age of 60 to visit them “frequently” and make sure their needs are met, or the parents can sue for neglect. If the progeny still fail to comply with their “filial responsibilities,” their credit scores will be lowered. About 30% of Shanghai’s population, or 4.36 million people, are over the age of 60.