Tag Archives: tax havens

Government signs up Jersey in tax agreement

Quoted from HM revenue and Customs:

“Jersey is to join other Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories as a signatory to a Tax Information Exchange Agreement (TIEA) with the UK. TIEAs play a vital role in HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) drive against offshore avoidance and evasion.

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury, the Rt. Hon Stephen Timms MP said:

“Exchange of information and transparency between countries and territories is vital in combating tax avoidance and evasion. Jersey’s decision to embrace this principle is very welcome and a crucial step in the right direction.

“More countries and territories must now follow Jersey’s example. In coming weeks we will be working with G20 partners to boost global co-operation to address tax evasion. I urge those who have not yet met international standards to think again and start work on the necessary reforms immediately”.

HMRC Permanent Secretary for Tax, Dave Hartnett said:

“The importance of this TIEA with Jersey should not be under-estimated. It will enable us to obtain the information we need to ensure that the days when putting assets off shore provided an unfair tax advantage are well and truly over.”

The text of the agreement is available  on the HMRC website at  http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/international/jersey-eol.pdf and will in due course be laid as Schedules to a draft Order in Council for consideration by the House of Commons.

This is the fifth TIEA signed by the UK and follows the OECD Model Agreement on Exchange of Information on Tax Matters. The UK already has a TIEA in place with Bermuda and signed TIEAs with the Isle of Man, the British Virgin Islands and Guernsey. Jersey has signed TIEAs with the United States, the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and the Faroes.

From a business researcher’s point of view, this doesn’t change the problems we have when looking for information on companies registered in Jersey or the other tax havens mentioned in the press release.

“Hurricane Obama hits offshore tax havens”

I spotted this article in the hard copy of the Daily Mail while I was on the plane back from Glasgow last night. It particularly caught my attention because we had been discussing International filing and disclosure requirements at the workshop I had been running in Glasgow. According to the article a new bill – the Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act 77 – is passing through the US Congress with presidential backing.

The article singles out four regions in particular: Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Cayman Islands, Delaware and the City of London.

Switzerland is in the list because of its “banking secrecy laws”, and Liechtenstein is one of three tax havens listed as uncooperative by the OECD. The other two countries are Monaco and Andorra.

The Cayman Islands should come as no surprise, but I am still amazed at how many analysts and researchers keep asking me why they can’t find any financials or detailed information on companies that are registered there. Just take a look at Cayman Islands Companies: Formation & Registration:

“The Registrar of Companies can only release the name and type of company, its date of registration, the address of the registered office and the company’s status. Disclosing any other information is prohibited unless requested by a law enforcement agency.”

The US state of Delaware is another well known “haven”.  The Delaware Division of Corporations refers to its “modern and flexible corporate laws” and “a business-friendly State Government”. Roughly translated it means that you will have a hard job finding accurate, up to date or sometimes any information on companies registered there.  Many of the companies I have looked up on their register don’t give any proper contact details or give fictitious names. But perhaps Homer and Marge Simpson really are directors of multiple businesses in a wide variety of sectors?

The naming and shaming of the City of London came as a surprise, though. The UK is the last place that most of its citizens would regard as a tax haven but the article is referring to the so called “non-dom” laws. A non-dom, or non-domiciled person, is someone who is resident in the UK but claims it is not their home, their  ‘domicile’ being in another country. As a non-dom they pay no UK tax on their overseas earnings unless they bring the proceeds into the UK. UK Chancellor Alistair Darling’s announcement last year on proposed changes to the tax laws for non-doms caused an uproar and there have been many subseuqent “clarifications” and amendments to the proposals. I won’t bore you with the details here but if you are interested go to Chipwrapper and search on non-dom Alistair Darling and select Past Year as the time slice.

For the majority of us, tax havens will remain a dream. Substantial donations to the author of this blog would be gratefully received – used notes in a suitcase preferred 🙂