‘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 theGuardian 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.
(Originally published in The Conservative Woman)