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Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Offshore Tax Avoidance & Cameron's Panama Hat

Another stage-managed 'leak' of documents enamours the world as this time the mainstream media tell tails against the ready made usual suspects of most wicked who have been off-shoring their wealth in tax-havens.  Naughty naughty.

Strange it is that amongst this cast of pantomime villains David Cameron, Britain's own beloved leader, is probably 'at it' too as it is evident his deceased father was an expert in the tax avoidance industry and operated companies to manage his wealth outside of the reach of the UK tax-man's grasp.

Strange it also is that David Cameron makes oblique statements about if he and his family derive benefit, or will someday derive benefit, from something that in all probability, near certainty, beyond reasonable doubt, exists: a substantial pot of gold buried on a treasure island with a pirate's map only they have possession of.  Why else would his father have formed off-shore companies with board meetings in Switzerland and all if there was no more than the £2.5 million declared in the UK at his death.  That is not enough ever for a decent London house these days.  We can see; David's wearing a Panama, we can see.

The retching hypocrisy is only illustrative of the quality of the material that survives the political system to rise to the top.

But in the wider scale of things, outside of the blatant perfidy, I am happy the wealthy work so hard to conceal and protect their lucre from taxation and death duties.  It is a war of attrition.  The higher taxes are the harder more wealthy folk will work to find the loopholes.  But the harder it is to find the loopholes the higher taxes will become.  If taxes were very low avoiding them would only need to be a little bit complicated.  As taxes rise most taxpayers would take prudent steps to avoid incurring them if it is simple and economical to do so.  High wealth tax payer's desire to invest in tax avoidance mechanisms helps keeps tax levels low.

If it is to be believed; JK Rowling famously admits to paying UK taxes without taking advantage of avoidance strategies and yet she is still one of the richest people in Britain.  How can this be?  She is a world wide best selling author and clearly has won substantial royalties all round but it is not like she owns and controls a giant global petro-chemical industry or media and aviation empire.  Her publisher's should be earning a few bob too and on other writer's works also.  Could it be she is showing that almost all the truly well-off do not have their money as visible as she does.

Apparently most multi-millionaires are self-made.  Is that because they fritter their spoils away in later life or is that because their eventual beneficiaries have trust-funds and off-shore investments made ready for when the time comes to pass it on.

The various means of tax planning for the wealthy are not the exception they are the norm.  You do not get to earn a fortune to let half of it vaporise in death duties, you do not have that mentality.  You do not pay more in tax than you can legal avoid either.  And the more that is at stake the more time and fees you will invest to hold-on to it. That is just good business.

None of this simple commercial reality for the taxation of the prime yielding human-herd tax-livestock is not known to the policy setters.  They understand.  And more; they understand that the ultimate tax-avoidance includes exiting the nation with all your wealth.  People would rather be rich overseas than taxed into poverty.  People would rather live on their wealth than slave away to earn nothing after the tax-man has took it all.

There is a competitive market in the provision of a national tax-efficient environment and top of that game has been for years the United Kingdom - not for the residents, the domiciles, but for the non-domiciles it is treasure island incarnate, with shops and shows and glamour.  The UK is the biggest off-shore provider, especially in combination with its extra little tax havens dotted here and there about the world.  For the international money/power super-rich there has been nothing else like it.  Until now!

It is becoming apparent that for the globe-trotting ultra money clique the USA is sharpening its offer of hush-hush trust facilitation and with good reason.  Having their money in your banks keeps your 'printed' money in demand and, in the event of a global central banking funny 'money' over-issue crises there is nothing better than to have the rich of the world all keeping their eggs in your basket to focus their attention on keeping the USD then durable for a while longer still no doubt.

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