Forced disclosure is the latest Government tool against tax evasion.
The Government has just announced a new deal with the Isle of Man where the island will give the Government the names of UK citizens with offshore bank accounts. Forced disclosure is the latest in their war against tax avoiders. This has been whipped up by the media in the UK. Similar deals with Jersey and Guernsey are expected soon.
Said Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, in an interview with The Times “Any jurisdiction that refuses to enter into one of these information disclosure agreements is taking a huge risk with their reputation. It’s the price of doing business”.
So, it looks as if the Isle of Man agreed voluntarily to a certain extent. Said Alexander “Every tax jurisdiction that once thought it could operate on the basis that it could be an offshore haven needs to think again. Everyone should pay their proper amount of tax.”
Isle of Man
The Isle of Man’s Chief Minister said “This decision is a well-considered next step in the island’s long-established policy of commitment to being at the forefront of tax transparency and international co-operation. It is logical for the Isle of Man to embrace new forms of tax co-operation with our largest trading partner, the UK”. So there you ar then.
So, what does that mean for contractors who are operating under offshore umbrella companies schemes there? Does forced disclosure mean that the game is up for them? Will those offshore umbrella companies have to shut down now?
Far from it. Forced disclosure is more to do with tax evaders than tax avoiders. The Government’s frustration is because most of these schemes are legal under the laws of the UK. Therefore, it would be very hard for the Government to shut them down. Most of the companies in the Isle of Man already disclose this information anyway. They have nothing to hide if they are acting legally and the schemes are legal.
As the Government can do little about it, what they are trying to do now, in frustration, is to scare contractors out of the offshore umbrella companies. They are doing this by forcing the Isle of Man to bring in disclosure rules to hand that information over to the UK Government. However, once the Government has that information they can’t use it to prosecute people who are operating within the law.