Let’s call the Isle of Man a tax haven: nothing else will do

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Tax News.com has an amazing story. It says:

The positive part played by the Isle of Man in the global war against financial crime has been highlighted by a key official from one of the US Treasury's main anti-money laundering agencies.

William F. Baity - Deputy Director of FinCen, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network - spoke of the Island's involvement with his and other agencies when he delivered the Chief Minister's International Lecture at the Mount Murray Hotel.

Try telling that to Senator Carl Levin. The New York Times report on his investigation into tax havens in August 2006 said:

So many super-rich Americans evade taxes using offshore accounts that law enforcement cannot control the growing misconduct, according to a Senate report that provides the most detailed look ever at high-level tax schemes.

That investigation concentrated entirely on the Isle of Man. One of these stories has to be right and the other wrong. I can tell you which my money is on.

There is good reason for my doubting Mr Baity. First he was speaking to a dinner in Douglas, Isle of Man. Second,on the issue of the Island's reputation, he advised a move away from the label 'offshore', which had connotations that could not be overcome, he said, to something like 'independent financial centre'. He added:

Perception is reality and you will struggle as long as people talk about offshore

He is right in part. Some of us do struggle with people talking about offshore. The fact is that the Isle of Man is a tax haven. Any other description is wrong.

As for his suggestion that:

the Isle of Man use its maturity and experience in financial regulation to help less developed jurisdictions around the world

I have an obvious response. The less developed jurisdictions of the world are called its developing countries. We know that places like the Isle of Man create poverty in those countries. Worse, we know that the offshore activities that are undertaken there to contribute to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of children a year by denying them essential resources that they need.

The Isle of Man can help the less developed jurisdictions of the world. It can stop being a tax haven. Nothing else will do.