Friday, September 06, 2013

Two new tax haven items in UK parliament, pushing transparency

First, an Early Day Motion, from Wednesday:
"That this House notes with concern that one in five tax havens worldwide are under UK jurisdiction; further notes that although all the British Overseas Territories have committed to joining the Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters, none have actually done so and no time-frame has been set in which they will do so; further notes that the island of Sark, where income tax is set at zero per cent will not come under the new agreement signed by Guernsey so will be exempt from oversight on beneficial ownership; believes that clarification on when the register of beneficial ownership will come into force, which British Overseas Territories will sign up to the Register and whether it will be publicly accessible is required as a matter of urgency; observes that while the automatic sharing of tax information will aid transparency, it will not in itself alter the tax regimes which made these territories attractive to companies and individuals aiming to minimise their taxes; and calls on the Government to take action both domestically and internationally to tackle the use of tax havens by multinational companies and individuals operating in the UK or in territories under its jurisdiction."
We would support that.

We would also like to draw attention to this important parliamentary bill on corporate transparency; United Kingdom Corporate and Individual Tax and Financial Transparency Bill, which
"aims to tackle the opacity that exists in the affairs of multinational corporations"
and, more specifically,
"any UK multinational corporation must publish the accounts of all its subsidiaries on public record, and if nowhere else that must be on its own web site."
and something else of significance:
"the Bill tackles the opacity in the tax affairs of both large companies and wealthy individuals in the UK by requiring that the tax returns of the top 250 in each group should be put on public record.
. . .
Most of the rest of the Bill focuses on ensuring that the beneficial ownership of companies and trusts is placed on public record when the public interest requires it."
See this letter from UK MP Michael Meacher, the bill's sponsor, here. With a summary overview of the issues at Tax Research, here.


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