The BBC web site offered the rebuttals made by the four banks which were the subject of the research published by the TUC on their use of tax haven / secrecy jurisdictions. The responses are amusing:
The banks in question refuted any charge of tax avoidance.
Heaven forbid they should ever do such a thing – even though, as they often claim, it is legal.
Barclays said it is active in over 50 countries and, in order “to service its clients’ needs, it has incorporated subsidiaries in a number of jurisdictions. Barclays complies with taxation laws in the UK and the other countries in which it operates.”
But why does that require 143 subsidies in Cayman?
Lloyds Banking Group said that the “vast majority” of its business is based in the UK, but that it does have businesses outside the UK.
“Where we do conduct business overseas, our clear policy is to meet in full all tax payments and be fully compliant with the relevant tax laws and regulation,” it said.
Quite so – but not hard in Jersey where it has no less than 80 subsidiaries – where it will pay 10% tax at most now.
The Royal Bank of Scotland said: “RBS complies fully with all relevant offshore tax regimes. Any changes to those regimes are matters for regulators and governments.”
Again quite so – but we’re not worried about whether or not you pay your tax in Cayman – because there is no tax in Cayman. It’s whether you’re paying your tax here that worries us and whether you’re using UK tax payer’s money to finance your activities in Cayman and elsewhere that worries me even more.
As for HSBC it said that it:
did not take any money from the government and added that it “does not seek to avoid taxation and has an excellent relationship with HMRC and the other regulators and authorities under whose guidance and rules we operate.”
Which is absolutely irrelevant: a bank can tax avoid and still have an excellent reputation with HMRC.
So, let’s be honest: these rebuttals are deliberate exercises in avoiding the issue.
The issue is simple:
1) Why are you in tax havens?
2) How much of our money do you use there?
3) How much UK tax do you avoid as a result?
Just give us answers. The questions are easy enough to understand.