Offshore Schemes legal says top HMRC boss

Offshore Schemes Legal

Offshore Schemes Legal

Are offshore schemes legal? Are the Offshore Umbrella Companies that contractors use legal?

Offshore Schemes can be perfectly legal HMRC’s Commissioner and Director General for Enforcement and Compliance, Jennie Granger, said. According to today’s Times she conceded that “There is nothing illegal about an international structure, especially in a globally integrated economy and these arrangements may be particularly legitimate”.

So, many contractors and freelancers are now aping the bigger companies and even members of Parliament. They are using offshore schemes such as offshore umbrella companies.

Offshore Schemes Legal – Tax Systems of Countries

Jonathan Schwartz, a barrister at Temple Tax Chambers and a professor in international tax law, said “All laws influence and tax laws are no different. The tax behaviour of companies is largely driven by the tax systems they engage with.

“Tax administrators must apply the law as it exists rather than what they, or anyone else, might think it ought to be”.

Offshore Umbrella Companies Legal

That makes a lot of sense. There’s no point in Governments or MPs moaning about companies behaving immorally, when avoiding tax, when they just follow the tax rules created by Governments. It is their laws that make offshore schemes legal.

Usually the companies are just using schemes that the Government created, like special tax dispensation for the film industry, so that they come to the UK rather than go elsewhere.

The UK Government complain about companies avoiding paying tax whilst, at the same time, progressively cutting Corporation Tax. This is with the purpose of undercutting other countries. It is their stated intention to have the lowest Corporation Tax of all the G8 countries.

David Cameron’s Legacy

Then there’s David Cameron whose family money came from his father Ian’s use for himself, and others, of offshore schemes. There’s Chancellor Osborne who has an offshore family trust worth £4.5m.

Then there’s Margaret Hodge herself, the hammer of the multinationals like Google, whom she calls immoral. She has been exposed as owning part of an offshore company.

Stemcor paid her dividends of £50,000 last year. Her stake is worth over a million pounds. Tax was paid at less than 2%. Google would have been appreciative.

Said Mike Dean of Milestone International Tax partners “The companies under fire are doing nothing wrong legally, morally or ethically. They are, in fact, using the tax system in the way intended”.

Therefore, its Government laws that make offshore schemes legal like offshore umbrella companies.

Gain an Advantage

It is Governments who have been trying to ‘cheat’ and gain an advantage on other countries, in certain areas, that has caused this problem. Offshore schemes and offshore umbrella companies are just taking advantage of all of this.

So, it is Governments who make offshore schemes legal.

See our Offshore Umbrella Company Directory

offshore umbrella company list

Offshore Umbrella Company List

Offshore Umbrella Company Benefits

Offshore Umbrella Company Benefits

Offshore Umbrella Company Benefits

Benefits – so what are the offshore umbrella company benefits?

The main benefits are all connected to the money. This is the best way for contractors to keep most of their money. They can keep anywhere between 84% and 90% of their hard-earned money.

The exact amount depends on how much they are earning.

Mrs Thatcher Changed the Loan laws

Offshore Umbrella Companies started up when Mrs Thatcher changed the laws so that money sent offshore was no longer taxable. It was one of the first laws she brought in when she became Prime Minister in 1979. The Tory party grandees were among the first to get the benefits.

One of the earliest to benefit was David Cameron’s father Ian. He quickly saw the benefits  and set up lots of offshore schemes. Indeed he made his money that way. That’s where David Cameron’s inheritance came from.

Many of the Tory grandees saw the benefits and operate schemes like these including Lord Astor, David Cameron’s father-in-law and Lord Ashcroft, the Tory party’s main donor.

How Loans Works

So, the money that is sent offshore stays offshore. The Offshore umbrella company loans the contractor money in lieu of that loan. The loan is never paid back. The contractor defaults on that. The Offshore Umbrella Company takes the money in lieu of that.

Money is not taxed until it comes back onshore. The money never does. It is different money. Loans aren’t taxable. This is how it all works. It’s how the contractor benefits.

Tax Avoidance

It is tax avoidance, of course. However, it is legal and it is not tax evasion which is illegal.

The Government complain about it. However, it is they who make the rules. It is they who can change them. Contractors and others are only taking advantage of the rules as they are. They take the benefits from the Governments own laws.

Indeed it is the legal duty of the directors of a company to maximise the returns for shareholders.

Of course, the Government don’t want to change the rules as it benefits many of their party sponsors. Indeed George Osborne has a £4.5m family offshore trust. He sees the benefits of it.

Benefits Not Intended

It’s annoying for the Government when newspapers reveal that comedians and rock stars are reaping these offshore umbrella company benefits.

The benefits weren’t intended for the likes of them and contractors. The Government had to react. However, they don’t change the law.

For some examples of these companies see Offshore Umbrella Company List

offshore umbrella company list

Offshore Umbrella Company List

Offshore Umbrella Companies returns for UK Contractors

Offshore Umbrella Companies Returns

Offshore Umbrella Companies Returns

Offshore Umbrella Companies returns are the best returns a contractor can get. Those using them are able to keep the most of the money they earn of all contractors.

The returns can be as high as 90% depending on income.

It’s usually reckoned that a contractor using an onshore umbrella company will pay around ten grand a year tax more than one using a limited company.

However, offshore returns dwarf even that of limited companies. Indeed, it could make another ten grand’s difference again to the UK Contractor.

Difference in Take Home Pay

So, the difference between the annual take home pay between a contractor in an offshore company and one in an onshore one can be as much as £20,000 a year.

That’s a difference, over 15 years or so, of around £300,000. Once you’ve added in the extra earning potential of having that extra money to invest, it could be quite a substantial sum we are talking about.

On the Stock Market you are able to get an average return of around 12% a year, including dividends.

Extra Money Calculation

If you calculate how much your extra 20 grand a year would come to over 15 years at 12% interest a year, your money would be worth an extra £835,000 over that 15 years.

Of course, if you are better than the average Stock Market punter you could make even more.

So, it is clear that Offshore returns are much higher than for those using onshore companies. Using them would make contractors a million quid richer in 16 and one-third years, I calculate. That’s not to be sniffed at.

If you are going to be a successful and rich contractor you should maximise your returns from your earnings.

Apply for Offshore Umbrella Companies

So, to find out more, or to apply for one, click on Offshore Umbrella Companies List to get the best offshore umbrella companies returns and offers.

Offshore Umbrella Company Returns

offshore umbrella company list

Offshore Umbrella Company Returns

So, what are the offshore umbrella company returns on your hard-earned cash compared to other options?

First of all, what are the other options?

Firstly, you can just pay up on your IR35 tax. Secondly you can operate through a Limited Company (or Personal Service Company). Thirdly you can operate through a PAYE Umbrella Company. Finally, you can operate through an offshore umbrella company.

Offshore Umbrella Company

Offshore Umbrella Company Returns can vary anywhere between 85% and 90%, depending on your income. Using offshore umbrella companies are by far the best method of keeping most of your money.

So, if you earned £100,000 you would expect to keep £85,000 to £90,000 of the money you earn.

Limited Company (Personal Service Company)

This is the next best option. However, you would still be £10,000 to £15,000 down than the offshore umbrella company returns. You would expect to keep around 75% of your money. So, you would keep around £75,000 if you earned £100,000.

Onshore Umbrella Company

Using a normal onshore umbrella company would let you keep around 60% of the money you earn. This means you would keep around £60,000 of the £100,000 you earned.

PAYE Operator

If you pay the IR35 tax or use normal PAYE, you would get back around £55,000 of £100,000 that you earned.

There are many reasons for using one or the other. However, if it is a bean count, and you are just going for the most lucrative option then the offshore umbrella company returns of up to £90,000 makes it a no-brainer for contractors.

You could be keeping up to £30,000 a year more by using an offshore umbrella company rather than using a normal onshore umbrella company. That mounts up over time. That money escapes you.

To find out more about offshore umbrella company returns you should click on Offshore Umbrella Company Directory

offshore umbrella company list

Offshore Umbrella Company List

Offshore Tax Avoidance – Why the Government doesn’t Stop it

Offshore Tax Avoidance

Offshore Tax Avoidance

Many people, including contractors are bemused by the fact that the Government doesn’t just stop Offshore Tax Avoidance schemes completely.

“Why don’t they just shut them all down?” they ask. Why don’t they just get in touch with the people and say “You owe us a whole load of tax?”

The answer is that they can’t.

Don’t Break UK Tax Law

Top Umbrella Companies offshore and onshore

Top Umbrella Companies for returns

They don’t break UK laws. Indeed the offshore umbrella company schemes are designed to fit in with UK law. It may not be in a way that the Government intended, or wanted,  but they do comply with UK tax law.

That’s why it is legal tax avoidance rather than tax evasion.

According to HMRC’s Commissioner and Director General for Enforcement and Compliance, Jennie Granger, “There is nothing illegal about an international structure, especially in a globally integrated economy and these arrangements may be particularly legitimate”.

Legal Tax Avoidance

International tax law expert, barrister Jonathan Schwartz said “All laws influence and tax laws are no different. The tax behaviour of companies is largely driven by the tax systems they engage with.

“Tax administrators must apply the law as it exists rather than what they, or anyone else, might think it ought to be”.

That’s exactly correct. Those who run offshore tax avoidance schemes design their solutions to fit in with current UK law.

Change Tax Laws Back

Of course, the Government could change the laws back to where they were before – but they don’t want to do that.

They make those laws for a purpose. They may want to bring more film companies to Britain or to support the burgeoning UK music industry. They give tax incentives for film makers or music producers to operate from the UK.

Offshore Schemes for UK contractors to save tax

Offshore Schemes for UK contractors to save tax

It does do that – but it also opens the door to those who want to use this for tax avoidance.

Offshore Umbrella Company Loans

Then there is the fact that, in many offshore tax avoidance schemes like offshore umbrella companies, the money is sent offshore untaxed and stays there.

The offshore company gives the contractor a loan in lieu of the money.

That loan money is never paid back so the offshore company keeps the money sent offshore in lieu of it.

So, what should the Government do about it? Make loans taxable?

Think what would happen to the banking system then or to the City of London and all the commerce that goes on there.

Upholding the UK Tax Laws

As tax expert Jonathan Schwartz said “Tax administrators must apply the law as it exists rather than what they, or anyone else, might think it ought to be”.

The courts must do that also. It’s Government that makes the laws. It’s the duty of the courts to apply those laws.

The Government may fulminate against offshore tax avoidance but it is they who create the laws that allow it.

Money Leaving UK Untaxed

One of the first things that Mrs Thatcher did when she came to power was to bring in a law that allowed money to leave the UK untaxed.

Many Tory grandees have taken advantage of this to send their money offshore untaxed. This includes David Cameron’s father Ian, his father-in-law Lord Astor and the Tory party’s main funder, Lord Ashcroft.

Paying UK Tax

Paying UK Tax

It also includes Chancellor, George Osborne, who has a £4.5 trust offshore. He says he will pay the appropriate tax when it comes back onshore. However, it never will. It was sent offshore in the first place to avoid UK tax.

Margaret Hodge and Stemcor Tax Avoider

The hammer of the offshore companies, and big companies who avoid UK tax, is Margaret Hodge, a Labour party MP who is in charge of the Public Accounts Committee in Westminster.

However, it was revealed that she owns part of an offshore company called Stemcor, which her brother runs, and that her stake  is worth a million and saved her 50 grand in tax annually.

Of course, the Government could reverse Margaret Thatcher’s tax law and make money that leaves the UK taxable.

What would that do for British business and the City of London, and the Tory grandees, income streams?

Offshore Tax Avoidance Schemes to Continue

So, the Government may fulminate against offshore tax avoidance schemes every time they are ‘exposed’ in the press. They have to do that.

What they are not going to do is make money that goes offshore taxable again or to make loans subject to tax.

So, offshore tax avoidance will continue as long as the laws of the land allow it – and courts will continue to rule that loans are not taxable.

For a list of hose companies who operate offshore (and onshore) tax avoidance schemes click on Offshore Umbrella Companies List

Rangers Tax Case – HMRC accused of bringing them down

Rangers Tax Case

Rangers Tax Case

Rangers Tax Case – a former owner has accused HMRC of bringing a great football club, Glasgow Rangers, down via a spurious tax claim against them.

HMRC demanded more than £46m from Rangers after they used offshore Employee Benefit Trusts (EBTs). HMRC lost the Rangers tax case in a 2-1 verdict at a First Tier Tribunal in November 2012.

So, they decided to appeal it. The judge has now thrown that appeal out too.

EBTs for UK Contractors

HMRC said that Rangers were using EBTs to pay top players salaries. However, the tribunal and then the judge said that the money given to the players were loans.

Now, former owner, David Murray, said that the tax demand was instrumental in Glasgow Rangers being liquidated.

He said that the case hanging over the club caused the market to have a lower perception of the value of the club.

Bought by Craig White

Eventually Craig Whyte bought the club for just £1.

Rangers Tax Case

Rangers Tax Case from Rangers football club

He would have to pay the debt of £18m to Lloyd’s Bank as part of the agreement. Unfortunately, he financed that out of future season ticket sales.

As a result of Rangers not making it into the group stages of the Champions League and Rangers season ticket income already being spent, they got into tax and VAT trouble. So, they went into administration and then liquidation.

Rangers Enquiry

Now David Murray wants the Government to start an enquiry over the Rangers Case and how HMRC acted. It seems that Rangers offered HMRC a substantial amount of money to settle the case but turned it down.

Rangers tax case and their defeat could have huge ramifications for HMRC. They were using Rangers as an example.

It’s estimated that there are 5000 other companies using this route, including a number of top English football clubs.

So, a win for HMRC in the Rangers Tax Case could have produced a huge windfall for HMRC.

However, defeat in the Rangers Case has now caused them a lot of trouble amongst football fans and club owners. There will be a backlash against HMRC.

Rangers Supporters Club

According to a Rangers Supporters Club the Rangers tax case has caused a lot of pain to Rangers. They said “Rangers Football Club and its fans have been the victims of a witch-hunt by HMRC. It has done tremendous damage to a proud Scottish institution.

“Why did HMRC continue with this spurious claim when they were offered settlement? We deserve answers as to why this was done to our club”.

It was revealed, last year, that HMRC had come to settlement with many major firms. They were panned for it.

Therefore, the Rangers tax affair could still up a whole can of worms for HMRC. Football fans are not to be trifled with.

For a list of Offshore Umbrella Companies for Contractors click on Offshore Umbrella Companies List

Rangers Update

HMRC appealed the case again and won it. Now Rangers are going to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Begging Letters Sent Out by HMRC on Offshore Umbrella Companies

Begging Letters from HMRC to UK Contractors

Begging letters from HMRC

As regards Offshore Umbrella Companies HMRC is to continue sending out threatening begging letters to contractors. This is an attempt to get money from them for using offshore schemes that are completely legal.

Said one offshore umbrella company owner “To be honest it’s HMRC scare mongering. They know they can’t legally demand retrospective taxes. However they sent out 30,000 letters in 2013 and will again this year”.

They cannot hope to process that number of contractors, especially when their staff numbers have been cut. However, they are hoping to scare contractors into sending them money.

Tax Avoidance, Not Tax Evasion

Their big problem is that offshore umbrella companies are tax avoidance rather than tax evasion. One is legal and one is illegal.

What HMRC really need to do, if they want all that tax money, is to get the Government to change the laws to make it illegal.

However, despite what they say, the Government have little interest in shutting this down. They are not keen for comedians like Jimmy Carr to use tax avoidance schemes or indeed common or garden contractors.

Legal Tax Avoidance

Most of their donors use tax avoidance. Indeed Cameron’s own money came that way as his father was a setter-up of offshore avoidance schemes and was into it earlier than most people. So, this is where Cameron’s inheritance came from.

George Osborne has an offshore family trust worth around £5m. They probably teach Tax Avoidance at Eton.

Most of the offshore tax avoidance islands around the world are British colonies where the hedge funds ‘reside’.

Isle of Man

Offshore Umbrella Companies for contractors, which are mostly in the Isle of Man, are allowing contractors to do the same as the ‘knobs’ and avoid tax.

As regards offshore umbrella companies HMRC would love this to be changed. However, there is no way that the Tories will annoy their benefactors and sponsors by killing off this golden goose. It is annoying for them that contractors and comedians can’t be kept out.

So, as regards offshore umbrella companies, HMRC just have to send out begging letters to thousands of contractors. They may or may not be using offshore umbrella companies. They hope to can scare them into sending them money.

For a list of Offshore Umbrella Companies you should click Offshore Umbrella Companies List

Offshore Isle of Man Umbrella Companies – Autumn Statement leaves them alone

Autumn Statement

Autumn Statement

Offshore Isle of Man Umbrella Companies are in the news due to the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement.

The Chancellor unveiled his new tax avoidance measures yesterday in the autumn statement. He says will net the government £9bn extra in taxes. However, he has made those predictions before and only managed to get a fraction of what he expected to get. Most contractors using offshore  Isle of Man Umbrella Companies will not be hit.

There are two areas that the Chancellor is attacking as regards tax avoidance.

Intermediary Companies Legislation

Firstly, the Chancellor is targeting Intermediary Companies.

This is where UK companies register their UK employees as self-employed and pay them through Intermediary companies offshore. This saves the employer paying National Insurance on them.

Several hundred thousand construction workers are ’employed’ this way. It is the companies that get the main benefit. It is not something that affects most contractors in Offshore Umbrella Companies.

False Partnerships Crackdown

Secondly, the Government is going to crack down on what they see as false partnerships, i.e. those set up just to avoid tax. This may affect some Offshore Umbrella Company contractors, if the Isle of Man Umbrella Companies have set them up as partners. However, it is only a small percentage that are set up this way.

All that would happen here is that the offshore Isle of Man Umbrella Company owner would change to a new scheme that is legal and move their contractor over to it.

This legislation is not retrospective so there would be no legacy problems for contractors here. There will be no back payments that HMRC can claim. The very fact that they are changing the law on partnerships means that it was legal before. It will be legal right up to April 2014 when the contractors, presumably, will move to a new legal Offshore Umbrella Company scheme.

Government and HMRC

It would be different if the Government and HMRC fought a scheme through the courts and won. Then the contractors might have problems. However, the Government haven’t won many of these.

If the Government are to get anywhere near the £9bn that they expect to get then they are going to have to get it through the Intermediaries side of it. They may get some from onshore partnerships.

Offshore Isle of Man Companies

However, after this autumn statement those contractors using offshore Isle of Man Umbrella Companies can rest more easily. They weren’t in the Government’s line of fire this time around.

The vast majority of the offshore umbrella company schemes were legal and remain legal under current UK laws. If they do make them illegal, in the future, the legislation will not be retrospective. So, contractors whose schemes are made illegal will not lose out and have to pay back taxes.

For a list of legal Offshore Umbrella Companies you should click on Offshore Umbrella Company List

Applying for Contractor Mortgages

If you want to find out more see Specialist Contractor Mortgages

To apply for one of those specialist contractor mortgages see Contractor Mortgages Application

 

Rise in Use of Offshore Umbrella Companies

Rise in Usage of Offshore Umbrella Companies

Rise in Offshore Umbrella Companies

Offshore Umbrella Companies appear to be on the rise. One of the top dogs at HMRC recently said that many offshore schemes were completely legal.

Top people in the Conservative Party have been using these schemes for a long, long time. Indeed David Cameron’s inheritance came to a great extent from the money his father Ian made from setting up offshore schemes for himself and for others.

His father-in-law Lord Astor has many offshore schemes. Indeed the house in Scotland that David Cameron and his wife visit every year is registered in the Bahamas.

The top Tory party donor Lord Ashcroft is another one who operates offshore tax avoidance schemes. He is also the Tory party’s top fundraiser.

Tory Party Leaders

The top dogs in the Tory party have been doing this for years. They are getting on their high horses about multi-national companies joining them in doing this now. They didn’t create these rule for them (nor for comedians like Jimmy Carr) but for the ‘good old boy’ network.

As the head of Google said, it wasn’t Google that created the rules. It was, previous, mainly Conservative governments who created them. Making money moved offshore untaxable was one of the first things the Conservative government brought in when they won the 1979 election.

Now, contractors and freelancers are doing the same and setting up offshore umbrella companies. Of course the Government don’t like it but if they changed the rules it would affect many of their own supporters and donors. They liked it best when it was only the ‘good old boys’ that were able to take advantage of it.

Margaret Hodge Avoiding Tax

Even Labour MP, Margaret Hodge, who has been bashing multi-national companies as immoral for avoiding tax, turned out to be a shareholder in an offshore company that pays less than 2% tax. Her share is worth millions and she got a dividend of £50,000 last year. Everyone is at it now, it seems, except the PAYE workers who now pay most of the tax.

Contractors and freelancers can now get 85% or more of their money returned to them through using offshore umbrella companies. It is very difficult for the Conservatives to change the rules so that contractors and multi-national companies are hit and Tory party donors and members aren’t hit. They don’t want to share this goldmine but they don’t want to lose it either.

This is why more and more contractors are operating through these offshore umbrella companies. Their usage is on the rise. To see a list of these companies click on Offshore Umbrella Company Directory

Margaret Hodge an Offshore Tax Avoider too

Stemcor and Margaret Hodge

Margaret Hodge

It turns out that Labour MP, Margaret Hodge, is a tax avoider too.

You couldn’t make it up. The newspapers revealed, not long ago, that two senior managers at HMRC were putting their salaries through Limited Companies to save tax. This was whilst they were hunting down genuine contractors who were doing so.

They have now revealed that the Hammer of Google, Facebook, Starbucks etc., Labour MP Margaret Hodge, has a share in an offshore fund as well and is an offshore tax avoider.

The newspapers revealed that Chancellor Osborne is an offshore tax avoider and has an offshore family trust worth £4.5m. They also revealed that David Cameron’s father Ian was an offshore tax avoider He made most of his money (and David Cameron’s inheritance) from offshore funds.

The new revelation is that the Chairperson of the Committee which looks into tax affairs and tax avoidance has a share in an offshore fund. Margaret Hodge is an offshore tax avoider too.

Stemcor Offshore Company

She has a shareholding in Stemcor – which paid just 0.01% tax last year. Google and Amazon would be proud of that. Hodge claimed in a grilling, by Michael Crick, that she just had a small shareholding in the company run by her brother who is an offshore tax avoider.

However it turns out that her shareholding is 1.26% of the company. That would mean that she would have been paid out £56,939 in dividends last year. Her shareholding is now worth £1.8m. That’s hardly a tiny, tiny amount as she claimed.

Stemcor have confirmed that it doesn’t even include shareholdings in her children’s names. It turns out that she owns several million pounds worth of shares when you include her children’s shareholdings. They will now pay no inheritance tax on it.

She was asked to explain what other purpose that there could be other than avoiding tax for her share in the trust? She hadn’t replied so far.

It’s always been the case that those in the know have been using these tax avoidance schemes. It’s to save paying their full whack of taxes.

The top Tories have been offshore tax avoiders for a long time. Now it looks like Labour MPs are at it too. They are using them while bashing multinational companies and genuine contractors who now use offshore umbrella companies.

To see some examples of offshore umbrella companies for contractors see Offshore Umbrella Companies

General Anti Avoidance Rules (GAAR) will not catch multinationals

General Anti Avoidance Rules offshore

General Anti Avoidance Rules (GAAR)

There is a common misperception that the new General Anti Avoidance Rules (GAAR) will force companies like Google, Facebook and Starbucks to pay more UK tax. It will do no such thing and it is not even aimed at them.

Playing Field

The problem that the UK Government has in this area is that it doesn’t control the playing field. Other countries can use whatever rate of Corporation tax that they like and the UK cannot do anything about it. They can’t tell Ireland, Luxembourg and Switzerland what Corporation Tax to set.

Maybe the EU could but remember that the EU has a common VAT rate – but Britain has a different one. This would certainly be brought up if Britain tried to introduce a standard rate of corporation tax across the EU.

Switzerland is not even in the EU anyway and neither are the Bahamas, Bermuda etc.

Loading Up Costs

In terms of General Anti Avoidance Rules (GAAR), it’s also up to companies in which countries they load up costs and in which countries they have low costs and high profits.

General Anti Avoidance Rules

General Anti Avoidance Rules affecting UK contractors

Those countries with low corporation tax rates lose out as the companies incur fewer costs there like opening factories or hiring people.

Those with higher rates of tax will ge the benefit of the companies loading up costs by running their operations there. Those countries will earn income tax and have fewer people claiming unemployment benefit.

Dice Loaded

It’s swings and roundabouts. Cameron is trying to load the dice so that the UK can get both jobs and the corporation tax. However, he can’t bring in many measures to do so. He would have to get international cooperation and that will prove very difficult to do with low tax countries like Ireland saying that their corporation tax rate of 12.5% was not negotiable even when they were being forced into a bailout.

Any multinational agreement on all of this is a long way off, if it happens at all. Why should countries not compete on tax rates as well as on everything else. Surely that’s the free market. Surely a Conservative would understand that. Why do they want or need General Anti Avoidance rules (GAAR)?

Isle of Man Umbrella Companies happy with Budget

Isle of Man Umbrella Companies for contractors

Isle of Man Umbrella Companies

Isle of Man Umbrella Companies are happy with the latest budget.

The Chancellor took aim at tax avoidance in his budget today – especially offshore tax avoidance. However, the Isle of Man Umbrella Companies appear to have got away relatively lightly compared to Jersey and Guernsey.

The Chancellor has acted on the intermediaries tax loophole where UK companies avoid payroll tax by routing their payroll offshore in places like Jersey and Guernsey.

Isle of Man Umbrella Companies

Isle of Man Umbrella Companies for UK contractors

Often the temporary workers used by those UK companies didn’t even know it was happening. This is even though it could have led to them losing sick pay and maternity pay entitlement.

Illegal Schemes

However, these schemes are illegal in the Isle of Man and one company was fined for trying to operate one.

The Chancellor also said that he would work with the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey over disclosure. However, the former has been ahead of the game here and has worked closely with HMRC and the Government.

The people targeted are those who hide money in offshore bank accounts.  It’s not about contractors who use offshore umbrella companies.

The companies will feel that they got away relatively lightly.

Contractors can retain 85% of their income by using these companies. Many contractors are now doing so.

Here is one here:-

Compare the Umbrella

 

Offshore Umbrella Companies Boosted by UK Government

Offshore Umbrella Companies Boosted

Offshore Umbrella Companies Boosted

We have now got offshore umbrella companies boosted by the UK Government.

The UK Government is inadvertently boosting them by their attacks on freelancers’ use of Personal Service Companies. The UK Government appear to want freelancers to get out of Limited Companies and get into Umbrella Companies. The UK Government can then grab more income tax and National Insurance Contributions from them.

Although, to a certain extent they are managing to do this, more and more fish are escaping their nets and slipping into the offshore umbrella companies net. This means that the Government will get very little tax at all from them if any.

Legal Offshore Companies

Most of these schemes are completely legal. The freelancers’ money goes to the offshore umbrella company as an investment. They get back a loan in lieu of the investment. They use the investment as collateral.

One such scheme has the freelancer’s money paid as an investment. This is then invested in a broad spread of 150 telecoms companies. They insure the investment against loss. Therefore, as they insure the investment against loss the offshore umbrella company is able to loan money to the contractor in lieu of that investment.

When the contractor wants to cash in the investment he, or she, will get any profit from the investment in the telecoms companies. All they will pay is Capital Gains Tax on any profit they have made.

Conservative Party

Of course, this is all completely legal. The Conservative Government knows that as it was they, under Margaret Thatcher, who legalised it in 1979 within a month of coming to office. Perhaps it was payback time for their sponsors.

A number of Tory Grandees have used it successfully. They include David Cameron’s father Ian, Lord Astor his father-in-law, Lord Ashcroft the Conservative Party’s main donor and fundraiser. Of course, the Chancellor himself, George Osborne has a family trust of £4.5m offshore.

IT Contractors

Of course, these schemes were never meant for the likes of IT Contractors and other freelancers. However, they cannot just exclude IT Contractor from this tax avoidance gravy train. If they stopped it they would be cutting off their noses to spite their faces.

So, contractors are happy to see offshore umbrella companies boosted by the Government.

Check out our Which Umbrella Company guide and our Which Contractor Accountant guide.

Offshore Schemes have Government foaming at mouth

Offshore Schemes for contractors

Offshore Schemes

The Government has fulminated about offshore schemes where big companies are able to avoid paying tax in the UK. David Cameron has criticised ‘clever accountants’ who set up these offshore schemes for their clients to avoid paying UK tax.

Margaret Hodge of the Public Accounts Committee has attacked the big Accountancy companies for setting up these schemes at a Public Enquiry.

However, one wonders who should be in front of this Public Enquiry, the big Accountancy companies or the Government. After all, it is the Government who are in charge of the law. The big Accountancy companies just follow the laws that the Government set up.

Offshore Schemes for UK contractors to save tax

Offshore Schemes for UK contractors to save tax

Thatcher Government

Perhaps the Committee should investigate members of the Thatcher Government. The Committee could ask them why one of the first pieces of legislation they put through in 1979 after being elected was to allow people to send money offshore without it being taxed. Why was that so urgent?

There’s a lot of talk also about trying to shame companies like Starbucks into paying more tax than they legally have to.

Perhaps they should put David Cameron in front of the Committee to ask him if he would hand over to HMRC a big chunk of his own inheritance which came from the offshore schemes set up by his father Ian, who was one of the early practitioners of such schemes.

George Osborne

Perhaps they can bring Chancellor George Osborne before the Committee. They could ask him if he would promise to that he and his family will pay not just the tax that they have to but the amount of tax that they would have had to do if their £4.5m family trust has been set up in the UK rather than set up offshore.

Contractor Tax Avoidance sches on Isle of Man

Contractor Tax Avoidance schemes

So, the problem for the Government is that these offshore schemes are mainly used by their supporters and backers. There’s not a huge amount of Labour backers with offshore trusts.

These offshore schemes are used by people like David Cameron’s father-in-law Lord Astor and the Conservative Party’s main sponsor and fundraiser Lord Ashcroft. However, it was Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative Government who brought in the laws allowing people to send money offshore untaxed.

Multinational Companies

What they don’t appear to like is multinational companies getting a slice of what was set up just for the upper and business classes in Britain to avoid paying UK Tax. The upper and business classes in Britain have been taking advantage of this for more than 40 years. However, they are now outraged that companies like Starbucks, IBM, Google and Microsoft are using them.

What really annoys them is that freelancers, many of them in IT, are using offshore schemes to avoid UK tax. IT Contractors mainly come from the middle and working classes. They didn’t set these laws up for them.  So, will Cameron and Osborne change the laws which have helped their supporters and sponsors for many, many years – or is this just a knee jerk reaction to a media frenzy.

We shall see. For the moment these offshore schemes remain perfectly legal.