Offshore


Jaitley’s High Jinks

Posted on July 20th, by Global Tax Weekly in Budgets, Corporation Tax, Individual Taxation, International Taxation, Offshore. No Comments

Arun Jaitley’s first national budget as Indian Finance Minister comes at a critical juncture for India. Most economists would probably agree that India should be challenging China and the major advanced economies a lot harder than it is right now, but the reason it isn’t is because its enormous economic potential seems to have been squandered. Jaitley’s declaration that he is “duty bound” to usher in a policy regime that will result in higher growth seems to have been generally well received by those with a stake in the Indian economy. But excuse me if I play the contrarian here! True, the budget eases some barriers to foreign investment, and places an emphasis firmly on investment in industry and infrastructure which is sorely needed. But after leading investors to believe that the previous Government’s retrospective tax measure – the thing … Read More »


Saving The SAR

Posted on July 16th, by Global Tax Weekly in Budgets, Offshore. No Comments

Writing for another publication not so long ago, an editorial colleague of mine suggested that Hong Kong was finished as a financial center. Well, actually, he didn’t go quite that far. But questions about Hong Kong’s place in the world at present and in the future, now it is nestled firmly in the bosom of communist China, are worth exploring. For a start, it seems incongruous that China should be creating more competition for Hong Kong by establishing financial centers in the mainland, notably Shanghai, where a new free zone for the financial services and investment, commodities trading, and logistics sectors have been created. Then there’s its rivalry with Singapore which has emerged as a regional investment and trading hub par excellence and voted the best place in the world to do business for the sixth year running by the … Read More »


Derelict Directive

Posted on July 6th, by Global Tax Weekly in Banking, Individual Taxation, International Taxation, Offshore, Tax Avoidance. No Comments

Switzerland is probably fairly happy that international attention this week was being devoted to a French bank, for a change, and newly-announced figures for the money the country generated from applying the EU’s Savings Tax Directive may also have created a small frisson of satisfaction among the country’s financial leaders. For others, who don’t understand why, at first blush USD570m doesn’t seem to be a derisory amount of money to have extracted through a tax of 30 percent on interest payments, even if it was down 20 percent on last year, but hold hard: while there are no robust figures for total Swiss assets under management, a semi-official figure published last year suggests that they amount to about USD6 trillion, representing more than a quarter of global AUM. USD570m is 30 percent of USD1.9bn, which is an astronomically small proportion … Read More »


Hong Kong Gong

Posted on June 15th, by Global Tax Weekly in Offshore, Trade. No Comments

In a week when international attention was focused, apart from the unavoidable World Cup, on the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, commemorated this year as every year with a candlelight vigil in Hong Kong, it was praiseworthy of China to issue a “White Paper” lauding Hong Kong’s economic and financial achievements over the 17 years since it returned to Chinese rule. Of course, having Hong Kong on its doorstep is a massive advantage for China, which can use it as a free-market laboratory, as its own private “offshore” center, and as a source of investment funds via Hong Kong stock exchange listings. A slightly more cavalier commentator might wonder about the extent to which Chinese officials and quasi-state business operators might use Hong Kong as a laundry-basket for their wealth: without Hong Kong, they would find it far … Read More »


South China Serendipity

Posted on May 15th, by Global Tax Weekly in Budgets, Individual Taxation, Offshore. No Comments

It seems repetitive to keep on congratulating Hong Kong for sticking to its last, and once again insisting that it will not increase taxes; but to do so against all the pressures for more spending that exist in every State implies a very clear commitment to small government and low taxation. Like Singapore, Hong Kong insists that it will not step onto the primrose path of popular appeasement. There are to be no bread and circuses! In limiting itself to a maximum level of public spending of 20 percent, the administration sets its face against increased debt as much as against increased taxes. For comparison, Denmark spends 67 percent of GDP, and even the USA, which is far from the top of the table, spends 43 percent of GDP, according to OECD figures. And it’s not true that Hong Kong … Read More »


Malta In The Crosshairs

Posted on March 9th, by Global Tax Weekly in Banking, Budgets, Corporation Tax, E-commerce, Individual Taxation, OECD, Offshore. No Comments

As usual during this period of fiscal stress for countries across the world, we look in vain for any cuts in taxes. But at least in Malta they are trying to improve matters for businesses through simplification of the tax system and throttling back the impositions of government. As I say that, I can already hear the offended wailings of the anti-brigade: oh, but Malta is offshore, it is a tax haven, it steals revenue from big “respectable” countries like Germany by helping banks and gaming companies with low tax rates, so that they can’t get the revenue to help their poor, huddled masses to survive the rigors of the nuclear winter we are all trying to survive. Let’s be clear: the “nuclear winter” is a direct result of the debts taken on by those countries’ politicians in pursuit of … Read More »


Pigeon Post

Posted on February 16th, by Global Tax Weekly in Offshore. No Comments

I suppose it’s positive that Italy has removed San Marino from its black-list of low-tax countries. Not sure though whether it’s quite as positive that Italy removed its Prime Minister in the same week. They are comparing Matteo Renzi to Tony Blair, but it remains to be seen whether “New Labour” is a concept that will turn out to have wheels in Italy’s moribund polity. Anyway he’s Mayor of Florence, where he has done a good job of removing pigeons from the Piazza della Signoria. Let’s hope it’s a bit more permanent than Red Ken’s attack on “flying rats” in Trafalgar Square in London. If he does succeed in removing blood-sucking political vampires from Italy’s public spaces then Renzi will deserve a statue. Ci vediamo! Meanwhile, back to San Marino, which used to be a thriving Italian Monaco, but has … Read More »


Let’s Hear It For Luxembourg

Posted on February 9th, by Global Tax Weekly in Banking, Corporation Tax, Individual Taxation, Offshore. No Comments

Why does Luxembourg want to deny that’s it’s a “tax haven”? “Profiting ‘fiscally’ from other countries.” Well, we know why: because in dying Europe it’s not politically correct to compete against other countries any more, so Luxembourg has to pretend that it doesn’t have an advantageous tax regime. But it does! And its efforts to cling on to that regime are the reason for giving it a prize. While pretending otherwise, Luxembourg is engaged in fighting a rearguard action against the extension of the Savings Tax Directive and AEI (automatic exchange of information). It refuses, quite correctly, to give in to the EU’s demands for a much more encompassing Directive until all of its competitor nations (Switzerland, Singapore, Hong Kong etc) sign up to similar rules, which hopefully will never be the case. Let’s be clear: people should pay their … Read More »


Cyprus Keeps Punching

Posted on January 6th, by Global Tax Weekly in International Taxation, Offshore, Real Estate. No Comments

Cyprus has put five new double tax agreements into effect, including, importantly, one with the Ukraine, which includes beneficial treatment for real estate owned through a Cyprus holding company. The country’s DTA with Russia used to include such treatment, but the Protocol signed a year ago imposed limits on real estate holding companies, albeit only coming into effect in 2017. Although Cyprus has come in for a great deal of negative publicity since the “bail-in” imposed on bank depositors by the Troika earlier in 2013, it maintains an extremely tax-friendly environment for international holding companies, and double tax treaties are a key element of this regime, along with its 12.5 percent corporation tax rate and favorable rules on dividends and royalties. As a tax-friendly hub for investment into the European Union, Cyprus ranks alongside Ireland and Malta. Although the Government … Read More »


Cayman The Grand

Posted on December 3rd, by Global Tax Weekly in Offshore. No Comments

The OECD’s appointment of the Cayman Islands to be vice chair of the Peer Review Group of its Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes comes across as a case of turning the poacher into the gamekeeper, although no doubt the Cayman Islands would be highly affronted by such a comparison. And the anti-offshore brigade will be grinding their teeth at the transmogrification of their precious hate object into respectable police-island. We can merely congratulate the world’s third-biggest accumulation of capital at its cleverness in negotiating the shoals of international financial governance, and wonder at the influence which has accreted to the unelected, rich country quango called the OECD. It’s not the only world body which has mysteriously and almost accidentally acquired power on such a scale (FIFA springs to mind as another example), but it … Read More »





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