Tackling offshore – setting the scene

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I was asked recently what ten issues I would prioritise if I was to tackle offshore. The person making the request didn’t want much detail, just a list, but I’m not that good at doing “just lists” so I thought I’d share my thinking over a number of blogs.

First things first, I’d not list ten things. That suggests there are discrete action points in this area, and I’m not sure that’s true. So I offer five areas of activity where I’d develop issues, as I will in the blogs to come. They are:

   1. Starting reform at home. There’s almost no economy that does not need some reform to eliminate harmful offshore elements. These recommendations lay out a programme to address these issues.

   2. Reform in secrecy jurisdictions. This is, very obviously, key to progress, so some distinct and necessary reforms need to be highlighted.

   3. Tackle issues in the international arena. The whole point about offshore is it tries to be “nowhere” – falling in the gaps between jurisdictions as far as possible. That’s why international regulation is needed – and on more than tax.

   4. Philosophy needs to change. A little noted point – but we have forgotten why we granted limited liability in the first place and let companies be created. The same is true for trusts. We have to go back now and ask why society grants these privileges – for that is what they are – and ask what we want in exchange.

   5. We must help developing countries get the information they need so they can collect the tax due to them – indeed, so they can tax at all. Isn’t that an obvious need?

These are issues in which I propose to blog over the next few days.