Massive leak from Tax havens, including the Queen's secret stash

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  • A huge new leak of financial documents has revealed how the powerful and ultra-wealthy, including the Queen's private estate, secretly invest vast amounts of cash in offshore tax havens.


    Donald Trump's commerce secretary is shown to have a stake in a firm dealing with Russians sanctioned by the US.

    The leak, dubbed the Paradise Papers, contains 13.4m documents, mostly from one leading firm in offshore finance

    There must be something in the water at the moment, firstly the avalanche of sex deviants and perverts are having a light shone on them and now another group of creeps, the ultra rich who shelter their dosh in tax havens while the rest of us peasants have to pay tax, also also now finally coming under scrutiny.


    The whole system is geared up to screw us, literally. The legal system was created by the rich to protect the interests of the wealthy landowners and hundreds of years later, nothing has changed.


    The UK has clear laws about paying tax, yet the very rich either pay very little tax or none at all.


    This is the second major batch of leaks after the Panama Papers and I'm sure there are many more to come, but as anyone in the know is aware, the largest tax haven isn't in the Cayman Islands or the Isle of Man, but here in Blighty, it's London.


    Roll on more leaks!:)

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  • Not sure the Queen one is a big deal. We support her through taxation anyway, seems reasonable to make a few extra quid offshore instead of effectively paying herself.


    No one cares anyway right? If they did care about tax then firms like Amazon would be struggling instead of thriving. Or rather home grown legitimate competitors would not have failed whilst Amazon thrived.

  • Will anyone stop using Amazon because of their tax "planning" measures? No, don't think so., but this is a another chip-chip into a secret world where those with power and money (like the sex predators) do as they wish, or did.


    As regards the Queen, it depends if anything else comes out. The new Duke of Westminster who owns most of Belgravia, never paid any inheritance tax when he took over the reins from his late father, yet all the rest of us peasants have to abide by tax law.

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  • If they don't then they are saying it's ok (I stopped using them by the way but the democratic voice of the UK is an overwhelming yes to tax fiddling so might review that one day). Personally I think what they do is worse.


    Did no one know rich people put money in offshore funds before this came out then? Surely it's the details that will be of interest i.e. where the money was invested.

  • It's interesting, in a way, this this second batch of leaked documents about tax havens has come out in the middle of the stories of sex scandals and men's behaviour.


    To answer your question, Hoxton, i think people did know about it before, but like some men's sexual behaviour to otehrs, we're in a new age and I think, in time, the public may tire of rich people and companies fiddling the tax system while they have to do the 9-5 and pay all their taxes.


    As I've said before when the stories about Amazon's treatment of its staff and tax affairs came out, I do use Amazon. I stopped using them because of their treatment of staff and used other companies and found Amazon was head and shoulders above the rest. By using Amazon does not mean I agree with their tax planning measures or poor treatment of their staff, but I will continue using them for now.


    As you say, where the money is invested is important and why this story will not do the queen any favours due to the link with Brighthouse.

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  • All political parties seem to find it impossible to change these tax laws , motoring laws are no problem however as is the case with anything affecting the great unwashed.

  • They're protecting their own interests. The day we have massive tax reform including simplification and transparency, is the day pigs will fly.

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  • Before anyone criticises others for finding ways to avoid paying tax or paying less tax, they have to ask themselves, and be honest about it, if they could do the same would they? ;)

    Young boys in the park jumpers for goalpost that's what footballs all about isn't it.

  • Before anyone criticises others for finding ways to avoid paying tax or paying less tax, they have to ask themselves, and be honest about it, if they could do the same would they? ;)

    Exactly. My criticism of Amazon is not based on principle, if small British firms could get away with not paying much too there wouldn't be a problem.

  • Its a shame that you know Amazon is shit and you know a salesdrop would make a difference, but you choose to continue to support them. I used to use them for years, stopped about 10 years ago when it all came out and haven't suffered at all for it... In fact I found things were often cheaper elsewhere.

  • As a one man band company I always look to minimise my exposure to taxes and other expenses from El Gov as far as is legal. Not because I make a lot of money, far from it, but I like to keep as much of what I earn as possible.


    What I do object to is those, who are rich beyond the dreams of avarice, not even paying the same effective tax rate as the rest of the population but still taking advantage of the services this country provides.

    History is much like an Endless Waltz. The three beats of war, peace and revolution continue on forever.

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  • Before anyone criticises others for finding ways to avoid paying tax or paying less tax, they have to ask themselves, and be honest about it, if they could do the same would they? ;)

    I use ISAs, but if I was a billionaire, I'd hope I would want to pay the same amount of tax as the person on £20K.

    Exactly. My criticism of Amazon is not based on principle, if small British firms could get away with not paying much too there wouldn't be a problem.

    The many, many laws are written so that you need to employ very good accountants to get around those laws. Tiny business' cannot afford expensive accountants, they also can't pretend that out of all the countries in Europe, they get most of their revenue from Luxembourg or Southern Ireland, unlike the Starbucks etc

    As a one man band company I always look to minimise my exposure to taxes and other expenses from El Gov as far as is legal. Not because I make a lot of money, far from it, but I like to keep as much of what I earn as possible.


    What I do object to is those, who are rich beyond the dreams of avarice, not even paying the same effective tax rate as the rest of the population but still taking advantage of the services this country provides.

    This is exactly the problem.


    But many multinational companies saying that their profits are gleamed from revenues in Luxembourg, they are evading tax, not a simple tax efficient measure that you might employ, but a massive tax avoidance one. There is no level playing field.

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  • Overseas accounts are not in themselves tax havens. The illegality lies with the account holder who decides not to declare any taxable earnings to the tax authorities in his country of residence


    The presumption of tax evasion for anyone who has opened an account abroad in a country in which they do not reside even some of the time place is based on wilful ignorance stemming from envy or resentment towards the moneyed classes.


    It is easier and cheaper for a UK citizen to invest in shares in American companies from an account in the Caribbean. If you do so from a bank account opened in the US you will hounded and bureaucratisized to death by the US tax authorities and risk double taxation (US + UK). If you try and do so from the UK you end up paying fees to two brokers and you can still get hounded by the US tax authorities.

    It isn't just a matter of privacy and trustees to keep tax officialdom from making a nuisance of themselves. For UK citizens with assets or financial dealings abroad there are tax avoidance advantages in having an overseas account in Belize, the Caribbean, Bermuda. Because of class-based wilful ignorance, the mass of British citizens do not wish to entertain the distinction between tax evasion (illegal) and tax avoidance (legal). Not do they wish to pay heed to Lord Denning's decision that tax avoidance is legal and that it is tax evasion which is illegal.


    When various UK governments, invariably Labour, choose to ingratiate themselves to the mob mass voter by increasing tax to the rich, any wealthy person who has financial circumstances that enable him to minimise his tax bill by legal tax avoidance methods would be a chump not to do so. No doubt the mob mass voter's counter-view is that he should relinquish his Knighthood or even his freedom.






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  • as anyone in the know is aware, the largest tax haven isn't in the Cayman Islands or the Isle of Man, but here in Blighty, it's London.

    And if its a no-deal hard Brexit, what's the betting Britain will seek to survive by becoming an even lower tax haven to bring in the moneyi


    And why not?

  • Today on the front page of the Times you can predict with 100% certainty the consequence of every hypocritical ignorant sanctimonious bandwagoning vote-seeking politician (which is almost all of them) demanding that this country must nail down the "tax avoiders" in "tax havens" that are used by "dodgy" people and companies, depleting this country's wealth and reducing the standard of living of its "honest hard working citizens".


    The consequence is already evident from the Irish Government's announced crackdown on tax avoiders, where Apple (and others) responded by moving its operation to another off-shore territory. If the Irish government's crackdown develops into substance rather than just chest puffing, other companies will surely follow Apple's decision and future investment, from multi-national companies in countries which offer a favourable tax climate, will evaporate. There will always be other receptive countries delighted to receive 5-10% of an enormous tax loaf rather than none. The irony and hypocrisy will be that one those receptive countries is already Britain, which will become increasingly accommodating if and when it leaves the EU with a bad deal or none at all. That said, if Labour gets in, most multi-nationals or foreign people who want to hold onto a reasonable proportion of their wealth will think twice about placing their hand and wallet into the mouth of a snake).


    "Tax haven" is a misnomer. It is simply a country which offers a lower, less penalising, less grasping tax regime to foreign people or companies than that of some other countries. It is usually a country that has - or had - or might soon have - a low standard of living with insufficient wealth creation within its own borders. Britain is in danger of becoming such a country.


    Tax avoidance is not tax evasion. In the last few years the British tax authorities have managed to reduce tax evasion to an insignificant deficit and recovered a massive amount of the unpaid tax owing. Tax avoidance is entirely legal and arguably the prerogative of citizens everywhere, including those in this country. Furthermore, tax avoidance is being bandied around by witless or rabble-rousing media and politicians as the avoidance of paying any tax, whereas the truth of the matter is that it is the avoidance of paying a higher percentage of tax than one is legally obligated to pay under that country's idiotically-complicated tax rules. Or as my accountant once said: "where there's a law there's a flaw".


    I suspect - or at least hope - that most members of Forum Box already know all this. if so, contrast that with what we hear from politicians, media and the majority of the British public. Why is this country like that?

  • Its a shame that you know Amazon is shit and you know a salesdrop would make a difference, but you choose to continue to support them. I used to use them for years, stopped about 10 years ago when it all came out and haven't suffered at all for it... In fact I found things were often cheaper elsewhere.

    I don't have a problem with Amazon I use them quite a lot I have a Prime membership mostly for the access to the videos etc and see the next day delivery they offer on a large amount of items as a bonus having that doesn't stop me from shopping around and buying from elsewhere if an item I want is cheaper.

    Young boys in the park jumpers for goalpost that's what footballs all about isn't it.

  • He's basically accusing me of hypocrisy, Ron, which I suppose it is.


    I do use Amazon in the full knowledge of their tax practices and treatment of staff. I'm not sure I agree with him that by me dropping my business with them would make a difference to their policies. I don't buy that much from them and like you, have prime membership so the free next day and frequently same day delivery is excellent.

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  • Tax avoidance is not tax evasion. In the last few years the British tax authorities have managed to reduce tax evasion to an insignificant deficit and recovered a massive amount of the unpaid tax owing. Tax avoidance is entirely legal and arguably the prerogative of citizens everywhere, including those in this country. Furthermore, tax avoidance is being bandied around by witless or rabble-rousing media and politicians as the avoidance of paying any tax, whereas the truth of the matter is that it is the avoidance of paying a higher percentage of tax than one is legally obligated to pay under that country's idiotically-complicated tax rules. Or as my accountant once said: "where there's a law there's a flaw".

    The bosses of Apple, Starbucks and others have said that they have a legal duty to their shareholders to reduce taxes and the burden upon the companies' finances. In the UK, we have the Companies Act that places that same onus on the directors of companies.

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  • He's basically accusing me of hypocrisy, Ron, which I suppose it is.


    I do use Amazon in the full knowledge of their tax practices and treatment of staff. I'm not sure I agree with him that by me dropping my business with them would make a difference to their policies. I don't but that much from them and like you, have prime membership so the free next day and frequently same day delivery is excellent.

    I'm not at all bothered by their tax practices and as for how they treat their staff if the staff aren't that happy they could always work else where.

    Young boys in the park jumpers for goalpost that's what footballs all about isn't it.

  • Today on the front page of the Times you can predict with 100% certainty the consequence of every hypocritical ignorant sanctimonious bandwagoning vote-seeking politician (which is almost all of them) demanding that this country must nail down the "tax avoiders" in "tax havens" that are used by "dodgy" people and companies, depleting this country's wealth and reducing the standard of living of its "honest hard working citizens".


    The consequence is already evident from the Irish Government's announced crackdown on tax avoiders, where Apple (and others) responded by moving its operation to another off-shore territory. If the Irish government's crackdown develops into substance rather than just chest puffing, other companies will surely follow Apple's decision and future investment, from multi-national companies in countries which offer a favourable tax climate, will evaporate. There will always be other receptive countries delighted to receive 5-10% of an enormous tax loaf rather than none. The irony and hypocrisy will be that one those receptive countries is already Britain, which will become increasingly accommodating if and when it leaves the EU with a bad deal or none at all. That said, if Labour gets in, most multi-nationals or foreign people who want to hold onto a reasonable proportion of their wealth will think twice about placing their hand and wallet into the mouth of a snake).

    George Osborne, our once "great" former chancellor, who gleams his wealth from his family's clothing business and Irish estates, uses very aggressive "tax planning" measures as does the former Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, Dame Margaret Hodge. Hodge was the one who publicly berated the heads of Starbucks and Amazon on live tv while using aggressive tax planning techniques herself. Her real name is Oppenheimer...


    If the tax havens stop, then Apple and others won't have any places to hide from the tax man any more.

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  • I'm not at all bothered by their tax practices and as for how they treat their staff if the staff aren't that happy they could always work else where.

    I understand the point Ron, but if you have no qualifications and a job in a Amazon warehouse is the only job around, Amazon are known to take full advantage of their employees in these positions.

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  • But working for Amazon is not the only job that people with no qualifications can do, the fact that there are people doing the so called bad jobs for a so called bad employer, kind of suggests that the job and the employer aren't as bad as the media would have us believe.

    Young boys in the park jumpers for goalpost that's what footballs all about isn't it.

  • I think it depends where in the country you live. If you in a city, there are more opportunities, if you live in a small town or the countryside, there are far less.


    When Amazon force people to run around their warehouses so that they are "efficient" or get their delivery drivers to do 200 deliveries a day, I know what I think about Amazon's polices and treatment of their own staff.

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  • The bosses of Apple, Starbucks and others have said that they have a legal duty to their shareholders to reduce taxes and the burden upon the companies' finances. In the UK, we have the Companies Act that places that same onus on the directors of companies.

    Thanks, that's a fair clinching point in the stupid hypocrisy being peddled by politicians and the media


    The other point is the sheer arbitrariness of a country's tax demands. Granted, it is to balance the books, which means meeting the overheads of running a country and avoid the country going into hock. But what if a Government is wasting money though inefficiency, incompetence, extravagance or hair-brained initiatives? How does a citizen rectify that other than by holding on legally to as much as possible of his personal wealth when, at the booth, it has become Hobson's Choice?


    Has the band-aid or Utopian solution, of re-distribution of wealth, morphed into an unarguable moral imperative? Underlying fairness between rulers and the ruled breaks down when a chancellor says that with tax he is going to "squeeze the rich until the pips squeak" (viz Dennis Healey). Other Labour leaders like Corbyn and MacDonald also demonstrate an inbuilt animosity towards wealthy people or companies, fanning the flames of envy and resentment among the mass of voters who prefer the soft option of equality to the tougher one of equality of opportunity.


    The incontestable fact is that:


    1) Redistribution of wealth cannot benefit benefit the poor or un-wealthy. Indeed, it will be counter-productive because the rich will remove their money and, if necessary themselves, to saner financial climates and foreign investors will steer clear of Britain.


    2) On the bottom line, the rich are, wealth creators who add to the financial coffers of the country in which they or their businesses reside (even those with an obscenely sybaritic lifestyle). But this holds no sway with the voting mob masses - the private yacht is like waving a rag in front of a bull. Granted, the wealth created for the country by the rich could be more but that's charity, dressed up as patriotism or good citizenship or eligibility for a Knighthood. Meanwhile, what Britain gets from the rich is a bloody sight better than nothing and we should stop bitching.

  • I don't believe as a conservative voter that to make someone wealthy, you make someone else poor. You don't bring those down from their golden infested towers, but instead try to help those who are at the bottom and looking up and wishing they were there too.


    That said, the policy of companies and wealthy individuals avoiding tax is morally wrong, if not legally wrong. Why should the rest of us peasants pay tax when those who are the most powerful, don't or pay far less?


    You could sort out a lot of this mess in a second by eliminating taxes such as IHT and bringing down the corporate and individual higher rates of tax to something more sensible, certainly not 40%!


    If I had to hand over 40% of my dosh to the government, I'd do every tax "planning" measure there is.


    The inefficiency of government and wasting money is a massive topic in itself, I don''t think there is a thread for that here yet. Perhaps if the State spent every £1 it received efficiently, then the rich might do less tax sheltering measures.


    I don't care whether someone has a yacht, but I do care if they pay an effective tax rate of 0.005% as in the recent Irish/Amazon debacle.

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  • I think it depends where in the country you live. If you in a city, there are more opportunities, if you live in a small town or the countryside, there are far less.


    When Amazon force people to run around their warehouses so that they are "efficient" or get their delivery drivers to do 200 deliveries a day, I know what I think about Amazon's polices and treatment of their own staff.

    I guess it depends whether or not you believe what is said in the media about certain companies or not.

    Young boys in the park jumpers for goalpost that's what footballs all about isn't it.

  • As I say, I'd be totally happy with Amazon paying tiny taxes if other small UK based businesses could too.


    Democracy is against me though and as a democrat (just about) I have to accept the majority view which is that most people don't care about corporate level tax fiddling. Obviously taking your business elsewhere would make a difference...!

  • I guess some of us just haven't the time and/or inclination to care about everything.

    Young boys in the park jumpers for goalpost that's what footballs all about isn't it.

  • I guess some of us just haven't the time and/or inclination to care about everything.

    True but it's so easy to do something in this case it must be very low down on the list of things to care about. As I say, if there's no great interest in corporate tax fiddling that's fine, democracy at work! Remainers have to accept Brexit, I have to accept corporate tax dodging. I will continue to bring it up when the issue arises of course...

  • There is a viable % somewhere between 0.005 and 40% !


    When you say avoiding tax is morally wrong I'm sure what you mean is "avoiding paying more tax than the law and the tax rules demand you should be paying". Why would anyone want to pay more tax than necessary? (They can always pay for a Knighthood separately!)


    Whenever a reporter or tv newscaster witters on about tax avoidance they invariably misleadingly translate that into "avoiding paying tax", which to most people is interpreted as avoiding paying any tax at all. Sometimes that is true (zero tax) because the tax rules end up being binary , where one is either liable or not liable to pay that tax. It is the responsibility of the Government tax collector, not the tax payer, to make the rules less stupid.


    Over the last 50 or so years, history has shown time and time again, that the mega rich only become aggressively tax-avoiding when a Government becomes aggressively tax-greedy. Fair's fair, don't you think?