The domicile laws – why we launched this campaign

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You think long and hard before issuing a report such as that we launched on Friday on the domicile laws. For a start, accusing people of law breaking isn't done lightly. I did it for three reasons.

First I am confident of the argument presented and think it watertight.

Second I am aware that there are only two ways the government can now defend continuation of the domicile rules. The first is to argue that the discrimination involved is undertaken for policy reasons. That would mean explicitly raising the flag and saying the UK is a tax haven. Alternatively they could seek to split hairs in the face of the obvious fact that the domicile rules do clearly discriminate on the basis of a person's national origin despite the fact that they have legislated to outlaw this. Either way the consequence would be massively embarrassing.

Thirdly, as with all my work there is a motive. The domicile laws in the UK are used to fuel the offshore world. They result in a significant contribution to the tax lost as a result of the use of offshore by wealthy individuals in the world. Tax haven activity by such people costs the governments of the world not less than US$255 billion a year in tax lost. Add in corporate tax losses, and the figure is more like $385 billion (see page 39 of the linked document). I'll accept argument (and it's sometimes offered) that these estimates may be wrong by a margin (although the latest evidence suggests they may well be low). But what no one has successfully disputed is that they are far from the right number.

If that's the case tax abuse costs enough to fulfil the Millennium Development Goals. I'll put that another way. If people and corporations stopped abusing tax havens then there would be enough cash to ensure that the following could ALL be achieved:

Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger

Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education

Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women

Goal 4: Reduce child mortality

Goal 5: Improve maternal health

Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases

Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability

Goal 8: Develop a Global Partnership for Development

But that's not all. There would be enough cash over to take most if not all the steps likely to be needed to tackle global warming.

That's how important this issue is. How can anyone defend the practice? How can anyone endorse it? How can anyone work in this industry and look their children in the eye knowing this to be true? That's the real question that should be asked by those who wonder why I do this.