Yesterday’s Guardian reports on Osbourne’s negotiations with Liechtenstein, Switzerland and a further 3 unidentified tax havens. The Treasury appear confident of raising £10bn over the next 5 years:
The Treasury had only budgeted to raise £1bn across the parliament, mainly from an agreement with Liechtenstein. But George Osborne, the chancellor, is now expecting to raise £2bn to £3bn from secret bank accounts in the mini-state alone.
Officials said a further £3bn was expected to be raised from Swiss bank accounts after an agreement with tax authorities there, signed 10 days ago, to push forward on a deal. There is thought to be up to £125bn stashed away in Swiss bank accounts by British citizens.
The Treasury said three further tax havens had asked to open negotiations on information disclosure, the method by which Revenue & Customs is locating billions the British super-rich have salted away and then taxing accounts and demanding back payment of unpaid tax.
It’s that “£125bn stashed away in Swiss bank accounts” that is astonishing. A couple of questions to those with more knowledge of multi million pounds tax avoidance than me:
1) Is there a criminal legal redress?
2) How can the Cayman islands have a different tax regime to the UK? Doesn’t that contravene the Azores case? Or is that just confined to Eurpoean territories?
Here’s the Tax Journal’s take on the Liechtenstein agreement:
Liechtenstein is clearly concerned that its banks are being used to provide short term assets for the LDF(Liechtenstein Disclosure Facility-Dewi) and this declaration points towards some hardening in what qualifies and what does not, which is helpful,’ said Gary Ashford, RSM Tenon’s Head of Tax Risk.
Experts have observed that the LDF is the most favourable ‘amnesty’ yet announced by HMRC. Writing in Tax Journal (20 September), Richard Clarke and Hannah Foulkes of PwC said the MOU ‘allows people to qualify for the facility by opening a bank account or moving an existing structure/asset into Liechtenstein after the facility had been launched and up to its closure in March 2015’.
They added: ‘The main benefits are that under [the terms of the LDF] HMRC will only go back ten tax years instead of the statutory maximum 20 year period and that it allows individuals with undisclosed UK liabilities to access the favourable terms of the LDF by simply opening an account in Liechtenstein, thus for the first time bringing domestic evasion into such an initiative.’
er -“thus for the first time bringing domestic evasion into such an initiative” What???