Ritchie, please, get a grip

This leaves questions unanswered.

First, as Margaret Hodge has confirmed this morning, HMRC when giving evidence to her committee not so long ago said they had contacted just one in six people on the Lagarde list of those who were UK resident but had funds in HSBC Switzerland. How can HMRC be sure then that all tax, interest and penalties have been paid? That seems to be impossible to me.

Second, why has so little money been collected? It was thought those involved had many billions in their accounts. This needs explanation.

Because not all people who are resident in the UK owe tax on money they have in Switzerland you fool! It’s exactly the same as the mistake you (and Richard Brooks, TJN etc) made about Osborne’s deal with the Swiss banks as a whole. People who are UK resident but non-dom can entirely legally have Swiss accounts upon which they do not pay UK tax. And as that Swiss bank deal with Osborne made clear, that’s what a lot of those Swiss bank accounts actually are. Non-doms who do not owe UK tax on their Swiss holdings.


6 thoughts on “Ritchie, please, get a grip”

  1. I might understand it if thousands of Brits had accounts in the Cayman Islands. But why the suspicion over Switzerland? It is a small but nonetheless sizeable country with a functioning, quite varied economy, it is hardly inconceivable that the number of Brits with dealings there runs into the thousands.

    And a Swiss bank is rather handy to have over and above a UK one, not for tax evasion, but for the simple reason you can deal with a banking professional when you want to discuss something and not some spotty twerp in a flammable suit who starts demanding identification when *he* rings *you*. Anyone who works internationally and has for whatever reason held an account there would do well to keep it open, just because they are handy banks to have.

    And I’m curious as to how HSBC has been caught like this. When I moved to France, I received this email from Credit Suisse:

    “Pursuant to the agreement between Switzerland and the European Community on the taxation of savings income, and pursuant to the Swiss Federal Law on EU Taxation of Savings Income that was passed by Parliament, Credit Suisse AG (hereinafter referred to as the Bank) is obligated either to withhold a retention tax on all relevant direct and indirect interest payments or to report the amount of such interest payments to the Swiss tax authorities, thereby disclosing the existence of the business relationship with the client.”

    People seem to think Switzerland is some kind of pirate haven with no legitimate business and tax evasion is routine. It’s not.

  2. Hi Tim. You ask the question on another post ” should Ritchie give up Economics and stick to tax?”
    No he shouldn’t.

  3. TN,

    “People seem to think Switzerland is some kind of pirate haven with no legitimate business and tax evasion is routine.”

    I think there is a large section of a those who have a particular political viewpoint who have typecast Switzerland as ‘bad bankers’ in exactly the same way they have typecast Sweden as ‘wonderful socialists’, regardless of any actual facts. Switzerland is therefor shorthand for all things bad, and Sweden all things good.

    Any nuance in the argument is ruthlessly beaten down in pursuit of the narrative.

  4. I don’t think it is really about tax. I think it is about people’s money being out of reach. I don’t think there really is much of a gap in his head between tax and wealth – tax just happens to be the proportion the State can get its hands on now. The rest is just deferred, but if it is in Switzerland it is out of bounds.

  5. Friend of mine from university lives and works in Switzerland now. So her money is presumably in a Swiss bank. Even though she’s British. OH NO SHE MUST BE AN EVIL CRIMINAL IT’S THE ONLY EXPLANATION.

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