But if you do choose pragmatism over idealism, the one thing you absolutely positively have to do is deliver. And Britain hasn’t. Back in 2011, the UK signed the Swiss/UK tax cooperation agreement, which offered an opportunity for tax evaders with Swiss accounts to come clean without criminal sanction or heavy penalty. We predicted revenues of more than £5bn over six years. By now we would have expected to have received about £4bn but we’ve received a little over £1bn.
The HSBC files is another example. As the Guardian has reported, the UK received information on about 6,000 individuals and businesses and recovered tax and penalties of £135m. France and Spain – both with fewer billionaires than the UK – have recovered £188m from 3,000 and £220m also from 3,000 respectively. Closer analysis of the French figures reveals that its revenue authorities have yielded three times as much from bank accounts held by French residents as HMRC has from accounts held by UK residents. France is also prosecuting HSBC for money laundering offences.
Yep. Because of the non-dom thing.
There’s a goodly number of people who *must* have a foreign bank account in order *not* to owe tax on their non-UK sourced income. There’s also expats of course, but it’s not clear whether he’s talking, really, about citizens or residents here.
But given that non-dom system, David Gauke has pointed out that of the 6,000 individuals and businesses, this came down to some 3,600 individuals and of those 2,600 were compliant. There were only 1,000 who were tax evading.
And as a tax barrister Maugham both should and does know this. So he’s pandering by not pointing it out. And this is appalling:
And when it comes to prosecutions, we can’t ignore that winning tax evasion cases, as with much white collar crime, is incredibly difficult. The law and facts are just too complicated to get a jury over the line on beyond reasonable doubt. But the status quo – effectively of impunity for wealthy tax evaders – plainly isn’t good enough.
A government that was serious about tackling financial crime would change the law to enable specialist juries – or even abandon jury trials altogether. So increased pressure on tax havens, and enhanced sanctions for evaders, may be more aspirin than antibiotic, but it will help.
A barrister wants to abolish jury trial? Hang him with the straps from his own wig box.