It was highly moving to hear the Prime Minister explain that the reason he gave misleading answers about benefiting from offshore tax arrangements was because he was angry with comments made about his dad. It makes you realise that, when it comes to tax avoidance, the Camerons are the real victims.
Offshore tax deals may deprive the country of billions of pounds, but that’s only money. Insulting comments are made about your father, such as ‘did you benefit from his offshore tax account?’ would make anyone get angry and confused, and spend all week implying you didn’t benefit when you did.
I remember when someone asked me if my dad liked bananas, and for the next month I told everyone I was the world discus throwing champion. Being devious was a natural reaction to the anger.
How dare people spread smears such as ‘he set up an offshore company in the Bahamas’, when the only evidence he did any such thing was that he’d set up an offshore company in the Bahamas. Some people even insinuated the reason the millions of pounds were placed in the Bahamas was to avoid tax. But there are many other valid explanations, such as the need to keep the money warm.
But now, at last, some people are directing questions at the real tax dodger: Jeremy Corbyn. According to the Daily Telegraph, Corbyn has “taken £1.5m from the state”, and the sneaky method he’s used is to “make this from his salary as an MP” (over 34 years).
Another MP is quoted as saying this revelation is “remarkable.” Thankfully there are dedicated journalists prepared to root out this astonishing figure – by multiplying his annual salary by 34. We must be grateful to those gallant crusaders prepared to go to such lengths to expose this scandal.
That’s socialists for you.
Having published his tax returns, it also emerged Corbyn was fined for sending in his accounts late, which David Cameron tried to make a joke about. This was reassuring because it suggests he’s got over the deep trauma he suffered last week. And you can understand his point: as any businessman knows, it’s far better to be paid nothing on time rather than the right amount a week late.
It also turns out Corbyn paid too much tax, having stated he earned more than he did. We could quibble about the too much/too little detail – but he paid the wrong amount. This seems to be the Conservative argument about tax avoidance: we’re all up to it in our own way, so if you give your son three quid for mowing the lawn without paying VAT, you’re no different to an investment banker squirrelling £10bn in the Virgin Isles so he can keep the lot and buy a Rembrandt to use as a dishcloth.
If you express discontent about it, you’re asked ‘do you have an ISA, because THAT’S tax avoidance’? I suppose it is. If you buy an apple rather than spending that money on a house, you’re sneakily avoiding stamp duty. Who are you to complain about Google?
And, as they insist, none of these people named have done anything illegal. That may be because the characters using accountants in Panama were rich to start with, so they could afford to employ an army of lawyers and accountants to make sure their avoidance was legal. If burglars had those resources, they’d inform a specialist firm about a house they were planning to rob so it could be registered in an archipelago off Alaska where it’s legal to walk off with someone’s telly and do a dump on their carpet.
But the saddest part of this story, as many Conservatives have suggested, is that if we’re going to be such sticklers over people in public life and where they put their £10m, we risk putting decent tax avoiders off from offering their services to the state. For example, William Hague said if Winston Churchill had to be open about his accounts, he wouldn’t have stayed in politics.
That’s possible – although it may be that he’d have stayed in politics and paid his tax. Or he might have said: “I was planning to warn about the perils of Hitler, then if necessary become Prime Minister and oppose the attempted fascist domination of Europe. But if I’m expected to pay the legal tax rate, I don’t see why I should bother.”
This only shows the slippery slope we go down if we insist our politicians stick to the same rules as everyone else.
If we expect them not to drive at 120 mph the wrong way down a motorway, or set fire to public buildings or sacrifice llamas in the woods in Satanic rituals, we’ll simply deter the high quality individuals we need.
The 50 biggest US companies have more money stashed offshore than the entire GDP of Spain, Mexico or Australia, collectively keeping about $1.3trn (£0.91trn) in territories where the money does not count towards US tax, according to a new report by Oxfam.
The City of London is seen as a "tax haven" at the centre of a worldwide system designed to help the super rich avoid paying tax, John McDonnell has warned as he called for an independent inquiry into the Panama Papers.
Organised crime prosecutors raided the offices of the Mossack Fonseca law firm looking for evidence of money laundering and financing terrorism following a leak of documents about tax havens it set up for wealthy international clients.
Panamanian prosecutors have visited the offices of the Mossack Fonseca law firm to look into its allegations that a computer hacker was behind the leak of a trove of financial documents about tax havens the firm set up to benefit influential people around the globe.
On the form book of the last few, fiascoid days this is not the highest of hurdles to clear. But the truest thing David Cameron has said of late is that he is, by birth, a very lucky person. The one birthright he was denied, however, was the power of imagination.
Comedian Jimmy Carr, whose financial dealings were criticised by David Cameron, said it would be "morally wrong" to comment on another individual's tax affairs as the Prime Minister faced criticism for benefiting from an offshore trust.
David Cameron has been accused of hypocrisy after he admitted he did have a profitable stake in his father Ian’s offshore investment fund, despite previous statements condemning aggressive tax avoidance as “not morally acceptable”.
Vladimir Putin has rejected allegations of links to offshore accounts uncovered in the Panama Papers and called the leaks part of Western efforts to weaken Russia.
David Cameron was today accused of "completely undermining" the Government's claims to be tough on tax dodgers after the Prime Minister personally intervened to try to prevent EU transparency rules affecting offshore tax trusts.
The European Union has threatened to sanction countries like Panama if they continue to refuse to cooperate fully to fight money laundering and tax evasion, after a leak of data showed the tiny country remains a key destination for people who want to hide money.
A retired Northern Ireland-born diplomat who was the governor of a British overseas territory where 113,000 offshore firms are registered, has said more transparency is needed in the tax affairs of the businesses in the wake of the Panama Papers scandal.
These facts are awkward for the Prime Minister: In the early 1980s his father Ian helped to establish an offshore fund, unabashedly named ‘Blairmore’ after the family’s ancestral family home in Aberdeenshire, which avoided ever having to pay tax in Britain.
Fifa president Gianni Infantino has defended his reputation after reports that he signed a Champions League broadcasting contract in 2006 with an offshore-registered marketing agency implicated last year in the Fifa bribery scandal.
THE International Consortium of Investigative Journalists - a global network of reporters which broke the LuxLeaks story in 2014 and SwissLeaks last year - recently published the Panama Papers, leaked details of financial arrangements that allow wealthy individuals around the world to avoid paying tax.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has called for an investigation in the tax affairs of the Cameron family and urged him to impose “direct rule” over British overseas territories and Crown Dependencies that act as tax havens
The leak of 11.5 million documents from a Panama-based law firm offers a glimpse into the shadowy world where the rich and powerful hide their money, raising sharp questions about the use of shell companies that obscure the identities of their true owners.
While fighting between pro-government forces and rebels for a small Ukrainian town raged on in 2014, representatives of Petro Poroshenko were preoccupied hunting around for a utility bill, it has emerged.
David Cameron’s father was allegedly involved in hiring what has been called a small army of Bahamas residents – including a part-time bishop – to sign paperwork for an offshore fund in what may have been an effort to avoid paying UK tax.
John le Carre’s 1996 novel, The Tailor of Panama, tells the story of Harry Pendel, a British tailor who serves the great and good but whose refusal to come clean about his past almost leads to his downfall. In Panama, he believes, discretion is the only way.
David Cameron’s father, senior Tory peers and former Conservative MPs are among the hundreds of individuals named in the the so-called Panama Papers leak of confidential documents showing how the world’s richest people shield their wealth offshore.