8 Days Remaining

Tuesday 7th
posted by Morning Star in Editorial

BBC royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell is certain, as only a sycophant can be, that salting £10 million of the Queen’s fortune in Bermuda is not about tax dodging.

Perhaps because neither the Queen nor the Duchy of Lancaster, which invests Crown wealth, is legally required to pay income tax, capital gains tax or inheritance tax.

Only out of the kindness of her heart does this figurehead of an outdated but lucrative institution agree to pay tax equivalents on a voluntary basis.

If all that is accepted as read under the 2013 Memorandum of Understanding on Royal Taxation, this begs the question: “Why shift £10 million offshore if there is no financial benefit in so doing?”

Will wealth transferred offshore reduce, even if only temporarily, the monarchical millions available for voluntary taxation in Britain?

We have become used to the royal family pleading poverty, with the usual media suspects lining up to tell us how much her majesty and ever-increasing family have been tightening their belts and how pleased we should all be to contribute to this huge tourist asset that only costs each family in Britain the equivalent of two dog biscuits a month or whatever.

On the basis of such guff, the monarchy was bunged another £8 million this year on top of its previous £74m.

Why couldn’t the £10m bound for an offshore tax haven have plugged the supposed hole in royal finances that required yet another taxpayer handout?

Most public service workers in Britain have had their incomes frozen for virtually a decade while profitable private employers have jumped on the impoverishment bandwagon, claiming to be unable to offer pay rises while sitting on billions of pounds of uninvested capital or exporting it overseas.


Transferring wealth overseas for property speculation or investment in tax havens is viewed as acceptable behaviour by Britain’s ruling class.

Many Cabinet members have benefited from such schemes even if they disown them publicly now.

If Theresa May’s government regarded the Paradise Papers revelations as a huge scandal, Chancellor Philip Hammond would have known that he had to be in the House to answer questions on it.

His substitute Treasury Minister Mel Stride tried to sidestep real issues by repeating the government’s unsubstantiated claim that it has collected £160 billion extra in taxation since 2010 by clamping down on evasion, “aggressive” avoidance and non-compliance.

But, as shadow chancellor John McDonnell noted, even Hammond accepts that the Treasury is still losing £30bn annually in this way, while taxation experts quote figures of more than three times this total.

The ability of the rich and powerful to choose whether to pay tax in Britain is beyond a joke when the vast majority of earners are covered by closely monitored PAYE and self-assessment.

The Tories are reluctant to carry through more than headline-grabbing cosmetic changes since many of their supporters benefit greatly from shifting wealth overseas.

Major donor and former treasurer Lord Ashcroft, who failed to honour David Cameron’s pledge that he would drop his non-dom status when elevated to the peerage, remains up to his eyes in offshore havens.

Many media moguls base their finances offshore, so there won’t be a mass clamour for change from that direction.

All the more reason to back Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s call for a public inquiry into aggressive tax avoidance to shed light on those denying essential investment funds for our NHS, education, council housing, infrastructure renewal and industrial development.