UK MP: ‘Britain Responsible For Tax Havens’

March 13, 2013

L_51b04526-b4f2-dbd4-a1a8-ab2e92b5c985During a recent debate at Westminster a UK MP claimed that Britain is “responsible for some of the biggest tax havens in the world,” citing the British Virgin Islands, Barbados, and Bermuda.

Fiona Mactaggart [pictured] — Labour Member of Parliament for Slough — made the statement during Treasury Questions in the Commons.

Ms MacTaggart said: “And yet Britain is responsible for some of the biggest tax havens in the world – Barbados, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands – which received more foreign direct investment than Germany and Japan in 2010. When did you last talk to the Foreign Secretary about what you could do about these foreign tax havens?”

In reply, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury David Gauke, said: “It is worth pointing out that they are not simply colonies in which we can direct orders. They do have a degree of independence.

“We are working with our other international countries at the G20, at the G8, at the OECD to ensure we have a modernised tax system. That does mean addressing those jurisdictions where there is a lack of transparency.”

You can read the full transcript here.

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Comments (50)

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  1. Al says:

    Irony: Britian is one of the world’s largest offshore tax havens (Res non-dom, etc.).

  2. Encyclopedia says:

    The rest of the world calls Bermuda a “tax haven”, but the erstwhile PLP administration used to have a fit if someone called them tax haven.

    The fact really is Bermuda IS a tax haven and will always be known as one.

    • Sandgrownan says:

      No it isn’t, never has been. Factually incorrect. This MP is misinformed.

      • Verbal Kint says:

        Depends on how you define tax haven, I guess. Corporations and wealthy individuals funnel money through here to avoid taxes. That sounds like a tax haven to me. I am open to someone changing my mind.

        • Sandgrownan says:

          Tax avoidance isn’t the same as tax evasion. First point. SecondlY, the term “Tax Haven” implies that Bermuda does something illegal to enable tax evasion. It doesn’t.

          Bermuda has a tax code that is what it is, it’s existed for a couple of hundred years in more or less the same form. Nothing new, nothing underhanded. It’s just a different way of raising revenue than is seen elsewhere

          Third, Bermuda is actually rather open and transparent regarding the tax affairs of it’s residents and businesses.

          • Verbal Kint says:

            Depends on how you define tax haven, I guess.

            • Eastern says:

              I agree with sandgrownan, Bermuda’s Tax system has been in place for a couple of hundred years. As I have said before; we pay taxes, 33% on everything we buy (and 150% on cars) and if your tax system doesn’t work; that’s your problem because our’s works. If you live in Bermuda you cannot avoid paying taxes, but I can’t speak for the outsiders that are avoiding paying taxes in their own country. Bermuda has no control over that, but doesn’t Bermuda have international information exchange agreements with 30 or so countries?

          • Verbal Kint says:

            Investopedia explains ‘Tax Haven’
            Andorra, the Bahamas, Belize, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, the Channel Islands, the Cook Islands, Hong Kong, the Isle of Man, Mauritius, Lichtenstein, Monaco, Panama, Switzerland and St. Kitts and Nevis are all considered tax havens. However, pressure from foreign governments that want to collect all the tax revenue they believe they are entitled to has caused some tax haven countries to sign tax information exchange agreements (TIEAs) and mutual legal assistance treaties (MLAT) that provide foreign governments with formerly secret information about investors’ offshore accounts.

            Read more: http://www.investopedia.com/terms/t/taxhaven.asp#ixzz2NQjWdId3

            • Sandgrownan says:

              Indeed, but i maintain their implication of illegal axtivity and secrecy is incorrect. At least iN Bermuda

              • Encyclopedia says:

                You would be surprised Sandgrownan

                • Sandgrownan says:

                  Not at all, i don’t think it doesn’t happen, but the gelatinous member for Slough might want to look in her own backyard. Tax evasion in Britain is not the fault of Bermuda, but rather the ineffectiveness of the Inland Revenue to police and enforce the code.

                  • Verbal Kint says:

                    “Indeed, but i maintain their implication of illegal axtivity and secrecy is incorrect. At least iN Bermuda”
                    You said this and then you admitted that it probably happens, then pointed the finger at Britain. I usually agree with a great deal of what you post. I don’t know you and I honestly don’t intend this as a judgment of you, and I don’t have an investment in any of this either way, but that kind of argument is what makes people a little squeamish about the whole tax avoidance thing.
                    What Bermuda does or doesn’t do should not be argued on the actions of the US or UK. Business here is seen by many as dirty, and that could well be because it is. I don’t really care where the truth lies, I just find it more than a little disingenuous that Bermudian businessmen act like they are somehow morally superior to their couterparts elsewhere. It’s business, I get it. I’d just find it refreshing for someone here to say “It’s business, i get it.”

                    • Sandgrownan says:

                      Perhaps i wasn’t clear. Bermuda has a transparent tax code that has been in existance for, give or take some change, a couple of hundred years.

                      Sure, people may use it to evade tax, but most use it to avoid tax (reduce their tax burden) by clever use of domiciling which is perfectly legal.

                      The problem is not mis labelled jurisdictions as tax havens, but rather the tax code in other countries.

              • Y.N.W.A. says:

                Yes, because Bermuda and the PLP are SOOOOO above corruption *eyeroll*

                • The truth says:

                  Attention seeking no one from one of the most miserable towns in England. Ignore.

          • ABC says:

            @Sandgrownan

            u part of de click i see

            de love of money LMAO

            ask google +2 billion avoided in taxes lol

        • monet says:

          I am by no means a tax expert but consider Bermuda a low tax jurisdiction. Unless all countries/states/what-have-you throughout the world have the exact same tax rates/structure then there will always be places where taxes are lower, for whatever reason. There is nothing wrong with this. Some capitalist individuals/companies will no-doubt exploit this to their benefit but when done legally there is nothing wrong with this.

  3. Richard says:

    You know this is cold this big country are trying to cut off small Islands life blood. If they had the chance they would have been doing it as well, and I my be wrong but done the UK get some kinda funds from it oversea territories. Now if so would that not hinder BDA and others ability to pay those sums? Just asking

    • No, all they get is grief and would be long gone given the will of the people. Look at the Falklands, who wants to be responsible for that little rock?

  4. change? says:

    They are coming to get them, one by one. USA is not satisfied either.

    bet the present administration will look towards the middle east, a position they tore to pieces when in opposition. when the shoe in on the other foot, they do walk differently.

  5. Truth is killin' me... says:

    Fiona Mactaggart is just JEALOUS!

  6. Yeah but... says:

    It is because of thier own failings in managing their debt that this “tax haven” issue is even in the fore…it is posturing by politicians seeking to answer their constituents as to why their own economies are in shambles (US and UK) – NOTHING WILL BE DONE – the corporate lobby (who funds the campains of said naysayers to tax havens) will never allow this loophole to be filled – it was congress that penned the tax loop hole in the first place.

  7. Family Man says:

    Weren’t the Brits appealing to the rich in France to come and live in London where there is much less punitive tax regime than Hollande’s new 75% tax rate? I suppose the French now consider London a foreign tax haven?

  8. flikel says:

    I take issue with the term ‘tax haven’. It implies illegal and unethical activitiy is taking place in countries labeled with this term.

    In reality, all countries in the world are ‘tax havens’. In the US, for example, States compete with each other on the basis of taxation, offering various tax incentives and tax rebates to attract business. Canada, UK and other countries also offer various tax breaks to lure business.

    So, what is the problem here? In Florida, there is no State income tax. Should the other States gang up on Florida and label it as a tax haven?

    In Bermuda, we have a different tax structure, compared to other countries. This is our right and nothing is wrong with this. Other countries do not have the right to dictate taxation policies to us.

  9. J Starling says:

    They do know Barbados is no longer a colony, right?

    • mixitup says:

      She may have been referring to Barbados’ Commonweath Status with the Queen being the “Figure Head of State” I guess.

    • hmm says:

      she probably doesnt know, she’s clearly confused by the amount of british tourists who flock there for their summer holidays, she must have meant Cayman Islands, unless she’s never heard of them and was pulling names out of her a**

    • Zombie Apocalypse says:

      Well, you know how these socialist politicians are Jonathan. They’ll say anything they think will make them sound ‘clever’.

    • Tolerate says:

      @ j Starling, this was my thoughts exactly. Was she misquoted, or not up to scratch on just what jurisdictions her country still has interest in.
      Funny the comments at this late date. Has not Bermuda been involved in hosting overseas Companies for some time now?
      I will with-hold my final judgment, but sounds like someone wants their half hour of fame. Comments do sound a bit negative and accusing. Tax Haven/Tax Avoidance? Her tone is that we are doing some-thing illegal.
      “When did you last talk to the Foreign Secretary about what you could do about these foreign tax havens?”
      What exactly does she want done?
      I think this lady needs to go back and make sure she is fully aware of the direction her comments are taken her before she ends up having to eat them. It’s reckless to say the least when an MP makes negative statements related to a countries means of existence.

  10. Winnie Dread says:

    A totally misinformed person she is I guess “they” want all the direct investments and “we” should get the waste water. Everything with regards to our finincial services are way above board Miss Mactaggart, I guess had you guys have direct control you would be happy.

  11. TED says:

    If you havent realized, the UN wants to have a Global Tax on every person. Do you accept this?

  12. These are tax evaders, avoiders or whatever name you want to give them. The fact remains that these vast amounts of siphoned off capital rightly belong to the poor of the world, Ask the peasants in that once communist country of Russia whether Abramovich should be be spending their money, or the white Appalachians who fight every day for a throw away crust. It might be smart and business-like to cream off your country’s taxes but not ever so moral. All countries in the world are indeed tax evaders, this is because those in charge of them are as one, reluctant to get off the gravy train hemselves.

    • Verbal Kint says:

      It might be smart and business-like to cream off your country’s taxes but not ever so moral. All countries in the world are indeed tax evaders, this is because those in charge of them are as one, reluctant to get off the gravy train themselves.

      Bingo.

  13. KM says:

    The British and the US are the biggest tax havens….. if only I got my dissertation published. Maybe I it’s time that I should.

    • blankman says:

      Deleware makes places like Bermuda look like absolute non-entities where tax avoidance is concerned.

      • Verbal Kint says:

        You’re right, and most of it is illegal. Surprised? Does that make Bermuda cleaner or just smaller? These are vacous arguments. What we are talking about is what happens here.

  14. ABC says:

    (y)

  15. 32n64w says:

    Perhaps Ms. Mactaggart should be reminded that virtually all of the Government’s major revenue streams come from direct taxation (payroll tax, land tax, custom buries, social insurance, etc.). The fact Bermuda is comparatively more efficient in deploying those taxes (save for the PLP’s recent and utter incompetence) does not mean we are or should be labeled a tax haven.

    • Clive Spate says:

      Errr no!!

      Bermuda rakes in far more in tax revenue than is actiually generated here. That is why payroll tax can be so low.
      So many major companies channel funds through yet do not operate here.
      It is morally questionable but not illegal. Bermuda has a tranparent taxation policy which enables companies to save billions in tax dollars.
      The rich get richer but does it trickle down?

      And if IB left would the Govt. be forced to increase payroll tax?

  16. Michael Hardy says:

    Do you think this is the only person who is shouting out this message. Almost every leader in the free world is saying the same thing. All the unions, Christian Aid, Oxfam. The general population of the world has been made aware of the corrupt financial system and is saying no more. It seems that unbeknown to most commenters on this page do not read news from around the world. The war has been raging for years against tax havens such as Bermuda and you guys didn’t know it? Were the powers that be hiding it from you? Well whether we like it or not the golden goose is laying its last eggs.

  17. Victor says:

    The self-righteous patronising neo-colonialist twit – I suppose she would prefer to see the people of small countries such as ours running around in grass skirts serving rum swizzles and pinacoladas to fatheads like herself while they sit back and commend us on how we have overcome so much oppression. Get stuffed lady.

  18. Malachi says:

    I have worked in captive management business for more than 35 years. Every client of mine has paid taxes as though they were domiciled in their home country. (including the US?).

    I am sure there are those that avoid tax – but they are the minority.