The Tax Justice Network campaign on the UK's domicile rules, which are at the core of our tax haven status, has reached The Times. In an article published today it says:
More than half of London's multimillion-pound houses are now bought by "nondoms" (nondomiciles) who, unlike most British citizens, are able to use offshore trusts to pay far less stamp duty.
The Liberal Democrats have described the situation as grossly unfair, saying that the Chancellor has avoided the issue out of fear that tackling it would spark an exodus of wealthy foreigners from the City, undermining the booming financial services sector.
Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman, promised to close the loophole that exempted nondomiciles from tax on their British homes. Under his proposals, which will be expanded upon in a report by the Lib Dem tax commission today, nondoms would also lose their status if they stayed in Britain for more than 17 years.
Candidly, that's not good enough. Fundamental change is needed. And who opposes that?:
Supporters of the rules say that they have encouraged talented people to move to London. Patrick Stevens, tax partner at Ernst & Young, the accountants, said: "If you are trying to boost the City then changing the nondom rules would be insane."
The Treasury said that the policy towards nondomiciles had been under review since 2002, but senior accountants believe that the issue has been kicked into the long grass. One said: "A minister told me that the review was likely to continue for several years yet. He smiled broadly as he said it."
I believe Stevens argued for that. But the minister is wrong. Public pressure for change on this is mounting inexorably. That's when change happens. I'm happy to play my part in that process. I may not be quoted in tis article, but spent a long time over the last few days teaching Times journalists what the domicile rules are. They're not 100% there yet, but they've got the message.
And the public get it loud and clear. They are being abused. No minister puts up with that position for long if they want to keep public opinion on their side.