‘In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes.’ You can’t escape death, but you can try to escape taxes. And if, like me, you are fortunate enough to live on the Isle of Man, you can certainly avoid being taxed to death. So why would you not be pro-choice when it comes to taxes and choose the option of fleeing with your money to the Cayman Islands or the Bahamas?

If you have been living in an igloo in the Arctic and have not yet been taken for a spin on the latest Leftist merry-go-round, here’s the Guardian’s pompous summation of the issue: ‘The Paradise Papers is a special investigation by the Guardian and 95 media partners worldwide into a leak of 13.4m files from two offshore service providers and 19 tax havens’ company registries.’

I simply don’t buy into the hysteria over the Paradise Papers. It is a non-story. By definition, it is ‘fake news’ because it is not news. The Guardian is the chief hysteria-monger and is using (a) the general public’s ignorance of finance and the economy, and (b) the resentment of the ‘have-nots’ against the ‘haves’, to turn this into a moral issue.

Read this typical Guardianista patronising line explaining the hyped-up exposé to a fiscal ignoramus like me. ‘Most people do not understand the complexities of offshore tax. They have no need to – because they do not have enough money to consider the schemes and arrangements that are on offer in tax havens.’



Complex? Nah! It’s actually fairly simple. If you live in a la-la land where your government is hell-bent on stealing half of your money and re-distributing it as handouts to Black Dee, White Dee, Fungi and Smoggy from Benefits Street, or to teenage girls who cheerfully get pregnant by a succession of absentee fathers, or on Muslim terrorists who pick your pocket for couple of million quid to fight their case against extradition, or on the NHS ‘diversity week’ with transgender art, or on coppers who spend your money painting their nails and parading around in bear costumes to create awareness about slavery instead of fighting real crime, I’ve got a solution.

Pack your bags and take the next ferry from Liverpool or Heysham to the Isle of Man. It’s three hours by boat and 25 minutes if you fly. You don’t have to be filthy rich. I’m not. I’m a vicar who is actually quite happy to be paid a stipend below the C of E going rate. But I’m sticking out my tongue at the UK government, because even at the bottom of the financial ladder, I have the wicked delight of paying half the taxes I would be paying if I lived and worked in the UK.

I’ve got friends on the Isle of Man who are millionaires and billionaires. Some of them come from working-class backgrounds and are proud of it. By dint of drive, hard work, cleverness, a willingness to take risks (the essence of capitalism), and a bit of luck, they’ve made it to the top. They drive Bentleys and fly private jets. I’m happy for them. Honest to God. I don’t envy them one bit.

I may have broken most of the Ten Commandments, but I have yet to violate the commandment that forbids me from coveting my neighbour’s Ferrari or his donkey or his wealth. After all, it’s their money. They’ve earned it or inherited it. They can do what they want with it – or they can give it away (actually many of my fellow islanders give huge sums to charity).

But they (and I) are not prepared to compromise on one principle. One of my parishioners couched the essence of this principle in colourful terms when I paid him a pastoral visit in his sprawling mansion. ‘I’m not going to watch the government take my money and p*ss it up the wall,’ he said. ‘Well put,’ I thought. Economists call it profligate government spending.

It is also a matter of fairness – a big Leftist slogan. If the government taxes half my income it means I am being paid for working only six months of the year. Let that sink in! The government confiscates the labour I put in for the other half of the year. I am not compensated, let alone rewarded, for the sweat of my brow. In fact, half my year’s labour is stolen from me and often given to someone who has not worked for it. That’s not fair, is it?

So don’t let the Guardian pull a fast one on you. They don’t get even simple facts right. A good example is the deliberate conflation of the Isle of Man with the Cayman Islands, Bermuda and the British Virgin Islands and using the label ‘tax haven’ to tarnish them all.

The Isle of Man is not a tax haven. How I wish it were! It is a low-tax area. There is no capital gains tax, inheritance tax or stamp duty, and personal income tax has a 10 per cent standard rate and 20 per cent higher rate. There is a cap on total tax payable of £125,000 per person, if you are fortunate enough to be part of the stinking rich. And we haven’t had a recession for the last 29 years, I’m told.

There are generous personal allowances (£8,500 per person, £17,000 for married couples) and if you give to charity the government puts a little back into your pocket. How’s that for an incentive to give more? We have a standard zero rate of corporate tax, although a higher rate of 10 per cent is applied to banking activity and retail businesses with annual taxable profits of £500,000 or more. Of course, if you believe the Guardian and its resentful Leftist cronies, you’d think the Isle of Man was an outpost of the Third Reich!

Look at all the evil people and companies who’ve stashed their ill-gotten gains into these tax havens! Don’t you know it’s an international conspiracy to steal the widow’s mite and take the last crust of bread from Justin Welby’s food bank? Everyone from Harvey Weinstein to Shakira, Madonna, Nicole Kidman, Bono and Justin Timberlake and Oxford and Cambridge – you see, the entire virtue-signalling Left who lecture us on taking in more immigrants and distributing wealth and higher taxes – all caught with their Ann Summers lingerie down!

But I’m going to be fair. They can take their money and shove it where they want (don’t get any naughty ideas, Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey), because it’s their money, and you suckers who paid for tickets to their concerts and movies and albums voluntarily made them rich!

The shameless Guardian vultures have even turned on Her Majesty. Millions of pounds from the Queen’s private estate has been invested in a Cayman Islands fund, they scream. Morons! Where do you expect the Queen to invest her money? Barclays? Santander? Tower Hamlets Building Society? Under the mattress?

The Guardian story is a complete fraud. People have a right to minimise their tax liability. There is actually no such thing as tax avoidance, points out political scientist Philip Booth. ‘Socialists seem to believe that all money is the property of the state and that if some people have large quantities of money, it is the “duty” of the state to confiscate this and redistribute it to those who have less in the name of “equality”,’ he writes.

And what is illegal or immoral about investing your money offshore? After all, Leftists don’t believe in borders! So stop slagging us off!

Ok, ok! I get it. You don’t want the rich and famous to take their loot and flee to greener pastures. In that case, allow a fiscal ignoramus like me to propose a grand solution. Pass new laws turning Great Britain into a tax haven (or at least a low tax zone). We’ll close down our bank accounts on the Isle of Man and Jersey and Guernsey and take the next boat and return to England’s green and pleasant land.

37 COMMENTS

  1. I remember the Beeb reporting of the Starbucks taxation story, deliberately mixing up corporation tax on revenue instead of profit for dramatic effect. Home of drama indeed.

    • Corporation tax is indeed paid on profit, The point is that despite huge UK revenue Starbucks had a nasty habit of declaring no profit and hence paying no tax. They chose to take their profits in Luxembourg. It wasn’t for dramatic effect but a correct representation of Starbucks tax affairs.

  2. Wow, I did not realise that the Isle of man had a £17,000 tax free allowance for married couples. Good for them

    One thing that unifies all these Tax virtue signalers is they also pay no more than they have to.
    Not a penny more, not even for the needy NHS!
    If you meet them ask them why they choose not to pay any extra? Some of these leftie virtue signalers are much wealthier than most of us.Anyone can write a check to HMRC at any time. They will cash it.

    • I’m always shouting that at the TV shows where some fool keeps telling us how they are wealthy enough to ‘pay a bit more’ and they don’t know why we all can’t follow their lead.

      “Hey, you don’t have to wait dimwit, there’s a mechanism to pay more if you want directly to HRMC, or give it directly to the NHS. So go do it and don’t involve the rest of us in your guilt trip. Indeed, if your money is so weighting down your conscience, then abandon it”

    • I’m not sure there is a mechanism for paying directed extra income tax.
      However if all behaved as they should, possibly the base rate could reduce or the NHS could meet it’s targets. I suspect the NHS is already quite dependent on voluntary acts.

  3. The annual UK taxes act, that HMRC does not now post me a copy, must be north of twenty thousand pages long. It was heading that way ten years ago.
    It is a wonder that anyone can avoid the spider’s web that our caring politicians have spun for us.

    • To be fair I suspect its written by those who have a vested interest in navigating that spiders web for those who have the money to pay them to do it.

      Think of the thousands of organisations, accountants and finance specialists that would cease to exist if the tax code was simplified. Also imagine how much trouble the Goverment would be in if it didn’t include loop holes that the wealthy could use.

  4. Well said. At last someone here is sticking up for capitalism. It’s usually all mealy mouthed utterances about how capitalism ‘contributes’ to the common good. Go for it Gomes.

  5. Our government has racked up a national debt of £1 trillion. If it were a company, no one in their right minds would invest in it. Therefore it is only sane that we minimise the amount of money we give to the exchequer.

    There is a moral dimension to this as well. By minimising your tax liability, you are also minimising the power of the state over the individual. It is an inherently conservative thing to do.

  6. The Queen’s investment in a private equity fund is not even tax avoidance. If the private equity fund in question was “on-shore” it would still be structured as a limited partnership which is tax-transparent in the UK, meaning the fund entity itself pays no tax. By all means have the debate about it’s appropriate for the Duchy of L to be investing in private equity funds but, once the decision was made to invest, the investment would almost certainly be made offshore as 99% of such funds are set up in Cayman, Lux, Channel Islands etc. That is mostly for regulatory reasons rather than tax avoidance. I don’t expect the Guardian to report properly on this issue but I am surprised that other respected broadsheets and magazines do not bother to ask anyone how the fund industry works.

  7. I didn’t read a word of the Paradise Papers and barely glanced at the headlines. Whether it’s reprehensible or not, tax avoidance is legal and tax lawyers and accountants clear their use of loopholes with the tax authorities in advance in order not to put their clients at risk – i.e. it’s a non-story that has been inflicted on us many times before to no avail. Anyone is free to do whatever is legal.

    The Guardian co-ordinated its splash with the Labour party which is itself stuffed with tax dodgers or associates – Lady Hodges and Tessa Jowell for starters. Labour held power under Blair and Brown for 13 years and did nothing about tax avoidance. If politicians seriously wanted to reduce tax avoidance, they have the power to legislate to do so. Labour didn’t because they knew it would be economically counter-productive and because tax avoidance provides a ready anti-capitalist flag to wave at the voters.

    When challenged with the fact that tax avoidance is legal, the Left fall back on the claim that it’s morally wong. Tax levels and regulations are decided by parliament and no one has a duty to pay a penny more than what he legally owes. Morality does not enter into it at any stage or level any more than in any other transaction between the state and the citizen.

    Because I didn’t read any of this boilerplate political hypocrisy, I don’t know if Corbyn and McDonnell promised to take action should they gain power but I’m willing to bet that if they did, they never will. Anyone who feels under-taxed is at perfect liberty to write a cheque to HMRC over and above what he is bound to pay by law but I doubt whether any Guardian journalist does so. I believe that the IRS has such a facility in the United States. It raises peanuts.

  8. Before one can even deal with the question of whether tax-advantageous investment is morally if not legally an iffy proposition, one must first define “wealth”– is wealth that which the State graciously lets you keep after they’ve made all deductions from the income from it for “public purposes,” or is wealth that which you amass by any means that do not involve extorting or defrauding anyone else, a portion of the income from which goes to pay for services deemed “essential” for a State to provide (we can later debate what THOSE are in its proper turn)?

    Before you can put the horse before the cart and not vice versa, you must know which is which, mustn’t you? I am put in mind of those old strictures on what the maximum diameter of any rod used to drub one’s wife is allowed to be, the issue of “Should one even be allowed to drub one’s wife?” being thereby tacitly answered in the affirmative.

    That one should define one’s terms, and not simply assume all understand and share one’s axioms in a debate, should itself be such an axiom, I suppose, but in the interest of consistency in argumentation I put it out there for you. Plus, I’m not all that sure that all DO consider what I believe axiomatic to be so. I’m in fact pretty sure a lot of people do not. But I’m willing to state MY basic assumptions and definitions– are THEY?

  9. I love your writing, Rev Jules. If there were more clergy like you I’d be very tempted to turn out on a Sunday morning!

  10. Lowering one’s tax liability is common sense. Without it, businesses would go bust and ordinary people like me would lose their jobs. In addition to being a part-time tutor, I work at a small finance firm comprised of two directors and one employee (me). Our business suffered a huge hit last year thanks to the government robbing landlords of investment property by increases in Stamp Duty. These were ordinary folks, not rich, who just wanted to build a portfolio to leave something to their children, or have a retirement income. The government swooped in and bled them dry each time. Every time a client calls up wanting to purchase a Buy to Let property with some money that they’ve saved, the adviser always has to tell them how much the government will scoop out of their pocket to fill their coffers. After all, if you sell the property and make a profit, the government wants a cut out of that, too. And for what? To fund failing schools, an NHS drowning in debt and inefficiency? No thanks. I’m not a high earner, but I don’t envy the rich. My father, a lifelong Labour supporter supported David Cameron in light of the Panama Paper revelations, saying that Cameron’s father had the right to keep his money where he chose. I was (then a Socialist) astonished by this. And he’s right. The government certainly has the right to set reasonable rates of taxation, but not to bleed the little man dry, particularly when we can’t see the fruits of that bleeding in society today.

  11. Not only is the Guardian owned by an offshore company in a tax haven, but the Labour party is paying the rent for its London HQ into one as well!

    Odd how our media doesn’t want to report that isn’t it?

  12. Amen.

    It’s always amazing how those on the left go for these small places whilst ignoring the US states which are ‘tax havens’ and the City of London itself which in part could be labelled the same.

    They also don’t seem to think of the ordinary people living in these places. As you rightly say Jules, most of the people living in the IOM are not millionaires, but those struggling to male ends meet, how would forcing an independent jurisdiction to completely change its economic model affect these people? Most likely a complete impoverishment for nations with their own unique cultures which are effectively the sizes of large towns in the UK providing a full democratic, welfare state with the huge costs that entails.

  13. The issue is one of morality not legality.

    Those for whom offshore avoidance is practical increase the pressure on the rest of us vanilla, taxpaying drones.

    If we profess to be a civilised society, we all want and need the infrastructure, products and benefits of taxation.

    As such offshore arrangements rarely arise out of necessity, it follows therefore that they are not only immoral but unpatriotic.

    So it’s ironic that certain people who knowingly benefit fom such schemes are also able to influence UK policy – especially on a platform of ‘patriotism’ – and if recent reports are correct, this includes Jacob Rees-Mogg and Arron Banks.

    Conflict of interest or wot?

    • I understand to a certain extent your point about fairness and that if the rich avoid tax, the rest of us have to make up the difference, but I do not believe tightening the noose the government has around our necks by giving them even more ease of access to other people’s money is the “moral” solution.

      The heart of the problem is that it is fundamentally unjust to allow the majority to vote to steal from the minority. This is effectively what our democracy has become. The “moral” solution is to teach people that nothing is free and forcing other people to pay for your stuff is immoral.

      Regarding your “civilised society” comment, private property rights and their equal enforcement are the core of civilised society, not the vicarious theft through government, of other people’s life, labour and property – socialism.

    • ‘The issue is one of morality not legality.’ Precisely. So what is moral about stealing money from hardworking people and subsidising spongers and scroungers and incentivising teenage girls to get pregnant by different fathers?

  14. Marxist idea of equal distribution of wealth is a lie to rob those who work hard and earn more than the average. There are always those who even if given equal amount of wealth to begin with, will squander, abuse and lose their wealth through mismanagement. Marxism, Leftism, Socialism are all fake ideologies the devil has invented to rob, steal and destroy. Nothing good has come out of any of these isms. The worst part is that those who believe in them are like cancer spreading their evil viciously to everything that is alive, healthy and good. Let us stand guard against these everywhere.

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