Open letter to Jersey’s tax protestors

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There’s a protest against cuts and tax increases in Jersey tomorrow – a protest I warmly endorse.

I was asked to send a note to those protesting. This is is:

Dear Friends

I’m sorry not to be with you this morning – in an island I love, and which is vital to all of you.

I make the point deliberately. There are many who will say that what you’re doing today is somehow “anti-Jersey” or “undermining Jersey’s international position”. They are wrong, and you are right to protest.

Jersey is not the finance industry.

I can say even more certainly that the finance industry is not Jersey. Their commitment to Jersey is as deep as the thickness of a Jersey £1 note. They use and abuse the island.

It is you – the real people of Jersey – who are committed to this island. And that’s why it’s important your voices are heard today.

And you have important things to say.

You are saying no to more tax on the ordinary people of Jersey when the finance industry is here in the island to make sure its clients pay no tax, anywhere.

You’re saying no to local business being taxed when foreign owned businesses working here pay no tax – wholly unfairly.

You’re saying that the finance industry in Jersey can’t survive without local people enjoying education, healthcare, public services, pensions and more – all of which the finance industry should be paying for through tax. But finance is saying no to that – they’re saying it’s your job to provide these things at your own cost so they can profit more. And that’s wrong.

And you’re doing something even more important. You’re saying you want a Jersey you can be proud of. A Jersey about which you can hold your head up high. A Jersey where the taint of corruption, dodgy dealing or just straightforward tax avoidance is absent.

That is possible. I suggested recently that Jersey change tack and become the cleanest, most transparent place in the world to do business. It could still have low taxes – but could do so openly, honestly, and attract business that needs what Jersey says it can offer to international finance – but in a way that everyone could see is fair, honest and open.

There’s nowhere in the world that does that. It could give Jersey its own unique niche in the world – and guarantee jobs. It would be something to be really proud of. And finance could then say “we’re doing good in the world – and can prove it.”

You would have thought the finance industry would have loved it. But they don’t. They say they need secrecy for what they do.

Secrecy for what, you might ask?

Secrecy not to pay tax, that’s for sure.

And that means secrecy to hide that fact from you – in the hope that you will pay while finance plays.

This is an unsustainable game. Jersey’s finances are in a complete mess – and it’s going to get worse as a result of recent EU decisions – the importance of which Philip Ozouf is denying.

This can’t go on. There’s a black hole in Jersey’s finances which cannot be filled – not unless finance fill it – and they’re refusing to do so. In that case Jersey will be on the bailout band-wagon before too long.

So you’re right to be here. It’s you who are arguing for the future of Jersey. You who are arguing for the place you’re committed to. You who are the real Jersey patriots. You who are looking for real solutions to Jersey’s problems – including its dependence on an unsustainable finance industry if it stays in its present form. You who are having the courage to face the future of this island.

Thank you for doing all those things and I look forward to seeing you when I’m over next, on January 24th.

Best regards, and stay warm

Richard Murphy

Director

Tax Research UK