29 A tax haven called Londres Posted on May 1 2012 Rumour reaches me that if Hollande wins in France the super rich are all threatening to leave – for a tax haven they called Londres. 29 29 Responses to “A tax haven called Londres” anrigaut says: May 1 2012 at 12:52 pm Is that a threat or a promise? From a French perspective, I’d say those who are willing to stay and show their solidarity with the rest of us by paying their due share are welcome to stay; for the rest, good riddance? But then I’m clearly biased – I sure won’t be voting for Sarko on Sunday. Interesting times here. Simon says: May 1 2012 at 1:14 pm Richard Its far more than rumour. A quick call to any of the leading London estate agents will confirm that. They are absolutely inundated with French enquiries, and most of them have beefed up their French-speaking teams to deal with it. Its not just London though. Belgium (no capital gains tax on shares, and a 15% cap on income) and French-speaking Switzerland are also reporting a huge upsurge in activity from estatet agents. The French can do nothing at all about moves to the UK or Belgium – freedom of movement of individuals and capital within the EU. Chas says: May 1 2012 at 1:22 pm Richard, I was led to believe that individuals never (ever?) made moves like this based upon higher rates of taxation? Non? Richard Murphy says: May 1 2012 at 1:23 pm Oh tiny numbers of sad ones do, ubdoubtedly They also return within a year or so Michael says: May 1 2012 at 3:20 pm Daytime TV suggests people move to other countries for all sorts of sad reasons, including “the weather” or even “a slower pace of life”. I would suggest that the amount of money in a person’s pocket will in some cases be far more significant. The annual Times Rich List shows that some very wealthy individuals will move to avoid taxes. It is also obvious from the same list that quite a number of those people don’t return to their place of origin because they remain in the list year after year. Many people who move to another country, whether it be for “the weather” or for tax purposes will move back eventually, but many people won’t. Of course not everybody needs tax efficiency forever, especially if they structure their affairs tax efficiently whilst not in the country and that might motivate a return in the long run. Paul Hillyard says: May 1 2012 at 1:36 pm One visit to London and they’ll be back to Paris before you can say, “allo, allo”. anrigaut says: May 1 2012 at 3:43 pm Not so sure about that Paul. I’ve read that there are similar numbers of English in France and French in England, the difference being that the English in France are mostly retired, whereas the French in England are young (and mostly in London, including the city). In my small village in Brittany, there are several French couples with children living and working in London, and they are very happy there. Though of course they are not the super rich (not yet anyway!). The French grandparents are keen to learn some English (with which I do my best to help them) because their bilingual grandchildren poke (gentle) fun at their lack of understanding. Bill Kruse says: May 1 2012 at 1:47 pm One wonders what this will do for house prices, both locally in London and nationally. If they go up loads, as seems likely, will the benefits cap on housing benefits then be raised accordingly? If it’s not (and I very much doubt it will be) this will mean homelessness for a vast number of people, greater even than is now anticipated. Carol Wilcox says: May 1 2012 at 3:30 pm French millionaires will not be competing with the recipients of housing benefits, I can assure you. Bill Kruse says: May 1 2012 at 7:57 pm I’m not suggesting they will be but their presence will increase competition for existing properties causing a trickle-down effect of rising prices. That’ll mean even more people will be priced out of the area. Richard Murphy says: May 1 2012 at 10:37 pm I suspect you are right This is a case where trickle down works, with adverse consequences SF says: May 4 2012 at 10:00 am Bill, you are perfectly right in terms of what causes high house prices in London. That is why I think there should be a restriction on non-residents owning property in London, though I am not sure how that would apply to EU nationals. Not only would that stop pushing prices up, but there wouldn’t be tens of thousands of empty houses in the capital. Richard Murphy says: May 4 2012 at 10:01 am The empty house problem is massive Bill Kruse says: May 4 2012 at 11:08 am I was unaware of an empty house problem in London. I’m unclear as to why there would be any, can someone enlighten me please? Richard Murphy says: May 4 2012 at 11:18 am Walk round Mayfair It’s a massive issue Carol Wilcox says: May 4 2012 at 11:18 am The way to kill house price inflation is to tax land values, as close to full rental value as possible. That would eliminate the speculative element and ensure that the billionaires pay a fair whack of tax (instead of the pittance they pay now in Council Tax). No one then would want to own landed property except to use it. Buy to let would not be an attractive option because most people could afford to buy rather than rent. Demetrius says: May 1 2012 at 3:09 pm Avez vous un cuppa? Tim Spofforth says: May 1 2012 at 3:23 pm There are, incredibly, about 450,000 French citizens living in London. Chas says: May 1 2012 at 5:53 pm @Tim, 450k is the new “tiny” ………… and “sad” anrigaut says: May 1 2012 at 6:28 pm @Chas, No-one, as far as I know, is suggesting the majority of those 450k moved to avoid higher rates of taxation”. People move for a multitude of reasons, many of them happy, not sad! Simon says: May 1 2012 at 6:41 pm Its offically France’s “third city” in terms of the number of French citizens. A huge number work in the City Expatr says: May 2 2012 at 7:10 am Yes but most won’t be the superrich trying to avoid taqx – a vast majority will be young and building careers with multinationals in the UK anrigaut says: May 2 2012 at 8:25 am Agreed expatr – that was also my point. I know of several such from my village, though admittedly the sample’s small – and I don’t move in the circles of the super-rich! Hum... says: May 2 2012 at 2:53 pm There are not 450k French people living in London. Best guestimates today stand at 300,000 with only under 125,000 French people registered at the Consulate for the whole of the UK for election, passport and other consulary services (see http://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/fr/les-francais-a-l-etranger/les-francais-a-l-etranger-5294/les-francais-etablis-hors-de/) Even with these figures, London is nowhere near the 3rd pargest city in terms of French citizens… See here: http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Principales_aires_urbaines_de_France where, with a total population of 300,000, London would not break into the top 30 of cities…. leslie48 says: May 1 2012 at 6:22 pm With all the dirt the press are throwing at Ken today &yesterday ( the Standard was covered in anti-Ken stuff last night) we can all be can be assured that Boris’s London will still have the highest fares in Europe, a massive housing shortage, rip-off rents, massive congestion, increased inequality & large scale youth unemployment, rising street crime and a city whose social divisions & riots completely shocked the world last summer. But the media want all this invincible until Boris is running London for another long four years. JohnM says: May 1 2012 at 9:08 pm Loads of housing available in East London after the olympics. As soon as they’ve got rid of the low-paid/unemployed rabble. Shades of Westminster and Ms porter ? Bill Kruse says: May 4 2012 at 11:28 am Why are they empty though? Is it like with Welsh mining villages where City boys buy holiday homes they only use for a few weeks a year but they compete to buy them at such high prices it leaves the locals unable to afford to live locally? Do we have Russian oligarchs and Greek tycoons inflicting the same problems upon London? Richard Murphy says: May 4 2012 at 11:48 am Yes Carol Wilcox says: May 5 2012 at 11:49 am I see that the FT is reporting this story today.