Yesterday, the Land Registry released all the title deeds of all tax haven/offshore companies which own property in the UK. There are, according to the Land Registry, 98,583 such properties owned by offshore companies in the UK in total. In Kent there are 1890 in Kent. And in Shepway there are 145. Of those, 22 are bits of property and land around the Eurostar terminal, owned by France-Manche, leaving another 123 properties owned outright by offshore companies based in tax havens.
Below is a graph setting out which tax havens the 123 properties are held in.
The British Virgin Islands tops the chart with 23 properties held here in Shepway by companies registered there. Missing out France, the next is the Isle of Man with 19 properties; which are all held by the colourful Geoffrey George Boot and partners, in his Isle of Man company, MF & L Ltd.
In the coming days we will release all the addresses, not just for Shepway, but for Kent too. As the data runs into 1.2GB, it will take some time to drill into and bring you the results. So please be patient.
Why does it matter that persons in Shepway own offshore property. It matters because there are tax advantages and it allows those who can afford it in Shepway to avoid paying certain types of taxes. The Paradise papers are Not about Tax. They do not focus on palm-tree islands strewn around the Caribbean. Their implications are not technical but political. The public who pay ALL their taxes in the UK are being denied the revenues they need for their hospitals and schools.
Drawing in part on data from last year’s Panama Papers and the HSBC files leaked in 2015, Gabriel Zucman recently co-published a study that found wealthy Britons have stashed £300bn in offshore tax havens – that is equivalent to 15% of our GDP.
Three hundred billion would more than cover our entire education budget for the rest of this decade and into the 2020s. Or, if you prefer, it is the equivalent of £350m being paid into the NHS every week for the next 16 years. Instead, it is funnelled offshore and used to buy yachts and property and other baubles – tax efficiently, of course.
The neoliberal economics so loved by David Cameron and George Osborne can be summed up very simply: punish the poor, but reward the rich for fear they will flee offshore.
This could be changed so easily and relatively quickly. Britain has ordered our overseas territories to decriminalise homosexuality and abolish the death penalty in the past. This lame Tory Government could, if it had the will, do exactly the same with tax transparency, in an Order of Council that, a senior London based tax lawyer recently told us, need be no longer than two sides of A4. But do you think it will happen, of course not. Theresa May has said she would rein in offshore excesses, but so far has delivered nothing at all. Empty vessels and all that.
It is clear from all the Tax leaks to date, the Tories are intent on rewarding the few not the many. There would be no need for the austerity Britian is suffering right now, if we brought that £300 billion back onshore. It would go a long way to solving a lot of problems the country is facing. It can be done, but we don’t suspect the Tories will be doing it any time soon.
The Shepwayvox Team