The Observer on tax

This includes the shoppers at Topshop, owned by Philip Green.

Does he own it?

Green avoids paying huge sums of tax in Britain by registering his company in the name of his Monaco-based wife, Tina.

Oh, no, he doesn\’t own it. So he\’s not avoiding any tax then, is he?

14 comments on “The Observer on tax

  1. I’m all for Green, and anyone else, minimising his tax liability, but you’re not seriously suggesting his wife’s ownership and domicile are not tax avoidance, are you? While nominally, he doesn’t own it, in terms of actual control and financial benefit, he does.

  2. Mr Green must have a very happy and trusting marriage. If the Mrs. gets stroppy, he could be a seriously impoverished man with some seriously rich divorce lawyers.

  3. Doesn’t make a blind bit of difference, Grumpy Old Man, ask Paul McCartney. I just about only own the clothes I stand up in. My wife is the sole owner of our home. If creditors came knocking they’d leave with very little but if MrsBud decided to call it a day she’d have to split it down the middle.

  4. I know I’ve said this before, but at the risk of boring everyone to tears…..we have separate taxation of men and women in this country, and married women can own property (including companies) in their own right. These are rights for which the women’s movement has fought over a VERY long time. In calling for Philip Green to be taxed on his wife’s income, UKUncut and others are trying to roll back the progress that has been made. I don’t think that one very rich couple avoiding tax by making the non-resident partner the beneficial owner of a large business is sufficient justification for reducing married women to the status of chattels again.

  5. Isn’t it just a natural consequence of the existence of nation states and sovereignty, that people will attempt to pay tax in the most benign of those states? Or am I missing something.

  6. @Frances Coppola

    I don’t believe for one minute that UK Uncut have actually thought through the consequences of what they are demanding and trying to explain that to them will fall on deaf ears – they don’t listen and they don’t want to listen. I’d also love to hear them explain how they would intend to extract UK income tax from a Jersey company dividend paid to a South African resident in Monaco six and a half years ago.

  7. @ Blue Burmese
    The USA decided years ago that it had extra-territorial jurisdiction to settle disputes between foreign nationals on the territory on other sovereign states: why should UK Uncut ask for less for itself, an unelected body of lobbyists who declare themselves superior to the elected government of their host country? Someone else will collect it for them, just as someone else will pay for their student grants and unemployment benefits.

  8. From what I’ve read of the Greens, Tina already had a career as a retail business owner before she married Philip (she was then over 40, 2nd marriage, so she could well have had plenty of experience).

    To say it is all him and not her makes some big assumptions. I’d struggle to believe she had no input into their combined journey and would be willing to believe her input was substantial. Who knows – she could be the real brains behind the whole thing – he could have been just following orders.

    Easier to believe than say, a GP having genuine input to her husband’s tax think tank. I know she has qualifications in ‘ethics’ but…

  9. Last I looked it wasn’t necessary to pay tax on someone else’s earnings. He pays relevant tax at the appropriate level for his income. She pays relevant tax at the appropriate level for her income. If her country of residence taxes differently from Britain, thats up to them. Nothing to say she’s liable here for her own taxes on her own income….

  10. They can bitch about this circumstance as much as they like, but the law is the law. What it was then, it is now and changing the law (especially retrospectively) to deal with this specific situation would be to drive a coach and horse through the reform of women’s taxation over the last 40-years.

    For myself, I’m glad that Tina Green has led the way in this new feminist frontier. My wife owns lock-stock-and-barrel our business (of which I am the main worker), but as she is non-resident and non-domiciled in the UK she pays only the relevant taxes on foreign sourced income that are applicable under that countries tax laws.

    This is the square root of fuck all as they have already been subject to UK Corporation Taxes and are paid out as dividends to the shareholder.

    Just like Tina Green. So we’ll keep our eyes and ears open and when Tina sells her shareholding or moves out of Monaco, then we’ll start to worry, but until then…FUCK ‘EM!

  11. the USA decided years ago that it had extra-territorial jurisdiction to settle disputes between foreign nationals on the territory on other sovereign states

    I was arguing with my dad about this a week or so back. The USA does two things::

    1. Tax the income of its overseas citizens.
    2. Decides for itself which people are citizens for income tax purposes, regardless of how the individual concerned considers his nationality.

    In fact, a lot of countries do 2. I have a friend who is a US citizen but born in Greece, moved when he was 3 and never really went back except for holidays. According to Greece, he was supposed to do national service: you can never stop being a Greek citizen in this regard, even if you have left and never come back. I believe the US treats its citizens in a similar way for tax purposes, i.e. once you’re a US citizen you’re liable for taxes whether you consider yourself a citizen or not.

    Now, with more and more countries – Norway, Australia, and possibly France – turning the screw on its expatriates, what is to stop every country following suit and claiming its citizens owe income tax? Nothing, presumably. So we’ll probably be looking at a situation whereby all countries will be taxing its citizens on overseas income, leading to a shitfight between countries on whether income tax should really be due to the host country or repatriated “home”. This doesn’t happen so long as the Yanks are the only ones taxing its citizens abroad, but if everyone does it then each country is going to be fighting for a greater share of the pie.

    Secondly, what is to stop any country deciding that person X, who does not consider himself a citizen of that country, receiving a tax demand anyway? If Greece can call non-citizens for national service, what is stopping Greece issuing non-citizens with tax demands? My dad thinks this is ridiculous and would never happen, but the US does it now and if taxing non-residents becomes the norm, this is a perfectly logical step.

  12. What Peter said first.

    Mr. Green may be a fine fellow, but if anyone really thinks it’s his wife’s business, then I have bridge they may be interested in buying.

  13. “once you’re a US citizen you’re liable for taxes whether you consider yourself a citizen or not.”

    True, but you can avoid this, if you wish, by renouncing your US citizenship and taking some other country as your own, if the other country will let you.

    After that, there’s nothing the US can do to you. Legally.

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