Archive for the offshore banking Category

UK – VAT(Value Added Tax) is 40 Today a brief history

Posted in Economics, international tax advice, international tax planning, International Trusts, offshore banking, offshore company formations, offshore trusts, Tax Avoidance on April 1, 2013 by John

Value Added Tax (VAT) is a tax on consumption levied in the United Kingdom by the national government. It was introduced in 1973 and is the third largest source of government revenue after income tax and National Insurance. It is administered and collected by HM Revenue and Customs.

VAT is levied on most goods and services provided by registered businesses in the UK and some goods and services imported from outside the European Union. There are complex regulations for goods and services imported from within the EU. The default VAT rate is the standard rate, 20% since 4 January 2011. Some goods and services are subject to VAT at a reduced rate of 5% (such as domestic fuel) or 0% (such as most food and children’s clothing). Others are exempt from VAT or outside the system altogether. Under EU law, the standard rate of VAT in any EU state cannot be lower than 15%. Each state may have up to two reduced rates of at least 5% for restricted list of goods
and services. The European Council must approve any temporary reduction of VAT in the public interest. VAT is an indirect tax because the tax is paid to the government by the seller (the business) rather than the person who ultimately bears the economic burden of the tax (the consumer). It is also a regressive tax: the poorest people spend a higher proportion of their disposable income on VAT than the richest people.

History Prior to 1973:

The UK had a consumption tax called “Purchase Tax” which was levied at different rates depending on the goods’ luxuriousness. On 1 January 1973 the UK joined the European Economic Community and as a consequence “Purchase Tax” was replaced by “Value Added Tax” on 1 April 1973. The then Conservative Chancellor Lord Barber set a single VAT rate (10%) on most goods and services. In July 1974, Labour Chancellor Denis Healey
reduced the standard rate of VAT from 10% to 8% but introduced a new higher rate of 12.5% for petrol and some luxury goods. In November 1974 Healey doubled the higher rate of VAT to 25%. Healey reduced the higher rate back to 12.5% in April 1976. Conservative Chancellor Geoffrey Howe increased the standard rate of VAT from 8% to 15% and abolished the higher rate in June 1979. The rate remained unchanged until 1991, when Conservative Chancellor Norman Lamont increased it from 15% to 17.5%. The additional revenue was used to pay for a reduction in the hugely unpopular community charge. During the 1992 general election the Conservatives promised not to extend the scope of VAT, but, in March 1993, Lamont announced that domestic fuel and power, which had previously been zero-rated, would have VAT levied at 8% from April 1994 and the full 17.5% from April 1995. The planned introduction of VAT on domestic fuel
and power went ahead in April 1994, but the
increase from 8% to 17.5% in April 1995 was
scuppered in December 1994, after the
government lost the vote in parliament.
In its 1997 general election manifesto, the Labour Party pledged to reduce VAT on
domestic fuel and power to 5%. After gaining power, the new Labour Chancellor
Gordon Brown announced in June 1997 that the lower rate of VAT on domestic fuel and
power would be reduced from 8% to 5% with effect from 1 September 1997. In November 1997, Brown announced that the VAT on installation of energy saving materials would be reduced from 17.5% to 8% from 1 July 1998. Brown subsequently reduced VAT
from 17.5% to 8% on sanitary protection products (from 1 January 2001); children’s
car seats (from 1 April 2001); conversion and renovation of certain residential properties (from 12 May 2001);
contraceptives (from 1 July 2006); and smoking cessation products (from 1 July

In response to the late-2000s recession, Labour Chancellor Alistair Darling announced in November 2008 that the standard rate of VAT would be reduced from 17.5% to 15% with effect from 1 December 2008. In December 2009, Darling announced that the standard rate of VAT would return to 17.5% with effect from 1 January 2010. In the run up to the 2010 general election there were reports that the Conservatives would raise VAT if they gained power. The party denied the reports. Following the election in May 2010, the Conservatives formed a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats and in June 2010 Conservative Chancellor George Osborne announced that the standard rate of VAT would increase from 17.5% to 20% with effect from 4 January 2011.

All businesses that provide “taxable” goods and services and whose taxable turnover exceeds the threshold must register for VAT. The threshold has been £77,000 since April 2012. It is by far the highest VAT registration threshold in the world. Businesses may choose to register even if their turnover is less than that amount. All registered businesses must charge VAT on the full sale price of the goods or services that they provide unless exempted or outside the VAT system. The default VAT rate is the standard rate, currently 20%. Some goods and services are charged lower rates
(reduced or zero). Registered businesses must pay over to HMRC the VAT they have charged on their goods or service (known as output tax) but they may offset this with the VAT they have incurred on goods or services they have purchased (known as input tax).

A separate scheme, called The Flat Rate Scheme is also run by HMRC. This scheme allows a VAT registered business with a turnover of less than £150,000 per annum to pay a fixed percentage of its turnover to HMRC every 3 months. The scheme is designed to reduce red tape for small business and allow new companies to keep some of the VAT they charge to their customers.

Businesses that sell exempt goods or supplies, such as banks, may not register for VAT or reclaim VAT that they have incurred on purchases. Businesses that sell some exempt goods or supplies may not be able to reclaim the VAT on all of their purchases. However, businesses that sell zero-rated goods or supplies, such as food producers or bookseller, may reclaim all the VAT they have incurred on purchases.

There are currently three rates of VAT:
standard (20%), reduced (5%) and zero
(0%).In addition some goods and
services are exempt from VAT or outside the
VAT system.[1]
The following are the rates applicable to
some common goods and services:
Standard Rated
covered only)
Bottled water
(inc. mineral
Calendars &
(fizzy) drinks
CDs, DVDs &
Cereal bars
Clothes &
footwear (not
for children
under 14)
(postage &
gas, heating
oil & solid fuel
Food & drinks
supplied for
on the
premises (at
cafes etc)
Hot take-away
food & drinks
(inc. burgers,
hot dogs,
Ice cream
Fruit juice &
other cold
drinks (not
Nuts (shelled,
Potato crisps
Prams &
Road fuel
Salt (non-
Taxi fares
Tolls for
tunnels &

Reduced Rated:

Children’s car
gas, heating
oil & solid
charity non-
installed in
Mobility aids
for the

Zero Rated:

Aircraft (sale
Bicycle &
Biscuits (not
Books, maps
& charts (no
Bread, rolls,
baps & pita
leaflets &
services for
Jaffa Cakes)
Canned &
frozen food
(not ice
ready meals,
Clothes &
footwear (for
under 14
& sale of new
Cooking oil
goods sold a
charity shop
for disabled
people (inc.
Fish (inc. liv
Fruit &
Live animals
for human
Meat &
Milk, butter,
magazines &
Nuts & pulse
(raw for
boots &
fares (bus,
train & tube)
(domestic &
(15 tonnes o
Tea, coffee &
Transport in
vehicle, boat
or aircraft
(not fewer
than ten


VAT revenue since 1978/79 as a percentage
of total government revenue:[27]
Year VAT
% Year VAT
1978/79 4.9 7.02% 1988/89 27.2 13.
1979/80 8.0 9.41% 1989/90 29.6 14.
1980/81 11.1 11.00% 1990/91 30.9 13.
1981/82 11.9 9.95% 1991/92 35.3 15.
1982/83 13.8 10.63% 1992/93 37.2 16.
1983/84 15.3 11.09% 1993/94 39.2 16.
1984/85 18.6 12.59% 1994/95 41.7 16.
1985/86 19.4 12.29% 1995/96 43.1 15.
1986/87 21.3 12.94% 1996/97 46.6 16.
1987/88 24.2 13.53% 1997/98 50.6 16.
Estimated Avoidance:

Evasion and fraud

The UK government loses billions in revenue each year due to VAT avoidance, evasion and fraud. In 2006 the loss was estimated to be between £13bn and £18bn, equivalent to £1 for every £6 of VAT due. The bulk of the lost revenue, about £1 in every £8 of VAT due, is due to evasion.[29] Evasion, which is illegal, occurs when registered businesses pay over to HMRC less than they should. This can be done by understating sales or overstating purchases. Evasion also occurs when businesses do not charge VAT on goods and services they provide even though they are legally obliged to. Cash-in-hand jobs by tradesmen may indicate VAT evasion.

In recent years carousel fraud (also known as missing trader fraud) has increased. Criminal gangs trade goods, such as mobile phones, across EU countries. They do not have to pay VAT, as imports from the EU are exempt. The fraud occurs when the criminals sell the goods with VAT in the UK but fail to pass the VAT to HMRC. The goods are often repeatedly shipped round EU countries by criminal gang networks, hence the “carousel” name. According to the HMRC, between £1.1bn and £1.9bn tax revenue was lost in 2004/05 due to carousel fraud.

The European Union Emission Trading Scheme has been plagued by carousel fraud. A loophole in VAT law – the Low Value Consignment Relief (LVCR) – means that goods imported from outside the EU and costing less than a set amount are not subject to VAT. When the LVCR was introduced in 1983 it was set at about £5 but gradually rose to £18. In March 2011 the government announced that the LVCR would reduce from £18 to £15 from 1November 2011.The LVCR has allowed online retailers of DVDs and CDs to avoid VAT by importing the goods from the Channel Islands, which are not part of the EU.
Major retailers involved in this tax avoidance include Amazon, Asda, HMV,, Tesco, W H Smith and Woolworths. The tax avoided each year due to LVCR was estimated to be £85m in 2005, £110m in 2008, £130m in 2010 and£140m in 2011.
The government has announced plans to close the loophole


Opponents of VAT claim VAT is regressive and is paid by all consumers whether they be rich or poor, young or old The poorest also spend a higher proportion of their disposable income on VAT than richest.

An Office for National Statistics report showed that in 2009/10 the poorest 20% spent 8.7% of their gross income on VAT whereas the richest 20% spent only 4.0% of their gross income on VAT. Similarly, the poorest 20% spent 9.7% of their disposable income on VAT whereas the richest 20% spent only 5.2% of their disposable income on VAT. Supporters of VAT claim VAT is progressive as consumers who spend more pay more VAT. The zero rating of food and allowing businesses to reclaim input VAT means that the government in effect subsidises the food industry. Critics also argue that VAT is double taxation as consumers pay for goods and services using income that has already
been taxed. It is also argued that VAT is an inefficient tax due to the numerous
exemptions and concessions.
It could also be argued that, compared to its predecessor Purchase Tax, VAT has encouraged the “throwaway society”.Purchase Tax imposed high rates on
new goods (especially luxury goods) but did not apply to repair services.VAT has
increased the cost of repairs and encouraged consumers to replace goods rather than
have them repaired.VAT also covers second- hand goods (which Purchase Tax did not)
and has discouraged the re-use of goods through the second-hand market


A roll call of corporate rogues who are milking the UK

Posted in Economics, international tax planning, offshore banking, offshore tax planning, Tax Avoidance, Tax Planning, Uncategorized on January 24, 2013 by John

The scale of unpaid tax now outstrips the entire deficit. Forcing the elite to pay up is a matter of both justice and necessity


in The Guardian

Starbucks TUC protest Oxford Street

Police officers protect a Starbucks outlet in Oxford Street during the TUC anti-austerity protest in London on 20 October 2012. Photograph: Suzanne Plunkett/Reuters

‘Only the little people pay taxes,” the late American corporate tax evader Leona Helmsley famously declared. That’s certainly the spirit of David Cameron and George Osborne’s Britain. Five years into the crisis, the British economy has just edged out of its third downturn, but construction is still reeling from government cuts and most people’s living standards are falling.

Those at the sharp end are being hit hardest: from cuts to disability and housing benefits, tax credits and the educational maintenance allowance and now increases in council tax while NHS waiting lists are lengthening, food banks are mushrooming across the country and charities report sharp increases in the number of children going hungry. All this to pay for the collapse in corporate investment and tax revenues triggered by the greatest crash since the 30s.

At the other end of the spectrum though, things are going swimmingly. The richest 1,000 people in Britain have seen their wealth increase by £155bn since the crisis began – more than enough to pay off the whole government deficit of £119bn at a stroke. Anyone earning over £1m a year can look forward to a £42,000 tax cut in the spring, while firms have been rewarded with a 2% cut in corporation tax to 24%.

Not that many of them pay anything like that, even now. The scale of tax avoidance by high-street brand multinationals has now become clear, in no small part thanks to campaigning groups such as UK Uncut. Asda, Google, Apple, eBay, Ikea, Starbucks, Vodafone: all pay minimal tax on massive UK revenues, mostly by diverting profits earned in Britain to their parent companies, or lower tax jurisdictions via royalty and service payments or transfer pricing.

Four US companies – Amazon, Facebook, Google and Starbucks – have paid just £30m tax on sales of £3.1bn over the last four years, according to a Guardian analysis. Apple is estimated to have avoided over £550m in tax on more than £2bn worth of underlying profits in Britain by channelling business through Ireland, according to a Sunday Times analysis, while Starbucks has paid no corporation tax in Britain for the last three years.

The Tory MP and tax lawyer Charlie Elphicke estimates 19 US-owned multinationals are paying an effective tax rate of 3% on British profits, instead of the standard rate of 26%. It’s all entirely legal, of course. But taken together with the multiple individual tax scams of the elite, this roll call of corporate infamy has become an intolerable scandal, when taxes are rising and jobs, benefits and pay being cut for the majority.

Not only that, but collecting the taxes that these companies have wriggled out of would go a long way to shrinking the deficit for which working- and middle-class Britain’s living standards are being sacrificed. The total tax gap between what’s owed and collected has been estimated by Richard Murphy of Tax Research UK at £120bn a year: £25bn in legal tax avoidance, £70bn in fraudulent tax evasion and £25bn in late payments.

Revenue and Customs’ own last guess of £35bn has been widely recognised as a serious underestimate. But even allowing for the fact that it would never be possible to close the entire gap, those figures give a sense of what resources could be mobilised with a determined crackdown. Set them, for instance, against the £83bn in cuts planned for this parliament (including £18bn in welfare) – or the £1.2bn estimated annual benefit fraud bill – and you get a sense of what’s at stake.

Cameron and Osborne wring their hands at the “moral repugnance” of “aggressive avoidance”, but are doing nothing serious about it whatever. They’ve been toying with a general “anti-abuse” principle. But it would only catch a handful of the kind of personal dodges the comedian Jimmy Carr signed up to, not the massive profit-shuffling corporate giants have been dining off.

Meanwhile, ministers are absurdly slashing the tax inspection workforce, and even introducing a new incentive for British multinationals to move their operations inbusiness to overseas tax havens. The scheme would, accountants KPMG have been advising clients, offer an “effective UK tax rate of 5.5%” from 2014 (and cut British tax revenues into the bargain).

It’s not as if there aren’t any number of measures that would plug the loopholes and slash tax avoidance and evasion. They include a general anti-avoidance principle (of the kind the Labour MP Michael Meacher has been pushing in a private member’s bill) that would outlaw any transaction whose primary purpose was avoidance rather than economic; minimum tax (backed even by the Conservative Elphicke); and country-by-country financial reporting, and unitary taxation, to expose transfer pricing and limit profit-siphoning.

The latter would work better with international agreement. But there is already majority support in the European Union, and it is governments in countries such as Britain – where the City is itself a tax haven – that are resisting reform. When you realise how closely the tax avoidance industry is tied up with government and drawing up tax law, that’s perhaps not so surprising.

But when austerity and cuts are sucking demand out of the economy, fuelling poverty and joblessness and actually widening the deficit, the need to step up the pressure for corporations and the wealthy to pay their share as part of a wider recovery strategy couldn’t be more obvious.

The target has to shift from “welfare scroungers” to tax dodgers, and the campaign go national. Companies that are milking the country at the expense of the majority are especially vulnerable to brand damage. Forcing them to pay up is a matter of both social justice and economic necessity.

Twitter: @SeumasMilne

• This article was amended on 31 October 2012. The original said that Apple is estimated to have avoided over £550m in tax on more than £2bn worth of sales. This has been corrected.

Formcos-Russia – The Russian Trust Company

Tax haven UK is alive – and prospering on the back of corruption

Posted in Economics, fiduciary, international tax advice, international tax planning, nominee services, offshore banking, offshore company formations, offshore tax planning, Tax Avoidance, Trustees on September 3, 2012 by John

Tax haven UK is alive – and prospering on the back of corruption

The FT reports this morning

A £38bn development boom in London’s most expensive neighbourhoods has been spurred by rampant demand from European and Asian buyers seeking safe investments away from turbulent Eurozone economies.

The pipeline of upmarket housing projects in planning or already under construction in the UK capital has increased more than two-thirds during the past year, with 15,500 units slated for delivery by 2021, even as building work in other parts of the country remains stagnant.

That’s one version of the story. The Guardian offers another (in a compelling story that deserves to be read in full). They report:

Britain has allowed key members of Egypt’s toppled dictatorship to retain millions of pounds of suspected property and business assets in the UK, potentially violating a globally-agreed set of sanctions.

The situation has led to accusations that ministers are more interested in preserving the City of London’s cosy relationship with the Arab financial sector than in securing justice.

I and the Tax Justice Network have long argued there is an economy within an economy n the UK – which is that of tax haven UK. Boith these reports are clear signs of this.

Of course money floods to the UK – but that is because our domicile rule makes the UK a perfect tax haven. But these people who come do not add value: they simply distort our housing markets, destroy the balance in our society, encourage more financial services which imbalance our economy and have no role to play in our democratic and other processes. It’s worse than that though: as the second report shows, far too much of this money is illicit and the UK has a willingness to turn a blind eye to such funding that is reflected in the behaviour of our banks who all to knowingly it seems do just the same thing.

This is tax haven UK at work, like a cancer within our country, destroying it from within


UBS & The USA & Swiss Banking Secrecy

Posted in Asset Protection, Asset Protection & Tax Planning., Big Brother, international tax advice, international tax planning, Nanny State, nominee directors, nominee services, offshore banking, offshore company formations, Privacy, Private Banking, Secrecy, Tax Avoidance on January 19, 2010 by John

So the USA gave 40 months of prison time to the guy who gave up UBS… he was partly responsible for 12 convictions (so far) and payments of over 800 million dollars in fines, taxes and interest – he will sleep well in his cell knowing he did the right thing.

Bloomberg had a roll call of the convicted and their sentences, several of the non US citizens have been “declared fugitive”. I will add a link at the bottom of the post.

A Swiss court has now ruled that the handing over of confidential UBS bank details to United States investigators by the Swiss authorities last year was illegal and against the Swiss Constitution. The federal court said the Swiss Financial and Market Supervisory Authority (Finma) abused its power when it ordered that details of 285 account holders suspected of tax evasion in the US be sent to Washington.
Though this won’t help the convicted or the hundreds of others not convicted, who after all paid good money for the privacy and expertise of UBS, it will potentially now lead to a myriad of claims against them.
Carlo Lombardini, expert on banking law in Geneva, came out in favour of the court ruling because it helped to reassure clients. “It proves that the justice system in Switzerland works” he said, well, if that is how it works I leave it up to you to decide whether you need that service.

Saga in Brief:
A Swiss bank that makes more money in the USA than at home is threatened with the loss of its US banking licence.
A weak government who didn’t want to lose face with Obama’s USA batted the decision around until it fell to someone deniable who gave in to the IRS.

4,750 US citizen’s details so far given up to the US authorities.

Swiss Privacy?

The economy of Switzerland is one that relies on the prestige and privacy of their financial institutions. A Swiss banker friend said that the Swiss in general, not just the banks want the whole thing to die away, his bank are not taking on any new US clients and are keen to move the existing clients into trust structures which offer better protection and privacy.

Besides as my Swiss friend says there is now far more potential in offering his services to the Russians, Indians and Chinese!

Business Week Article