In Brief

One third of UK billionaires have moved to tax havens

Super-rich continue to fund political parties despite law banning the practice

A third of British billionaires have moved to tax havens over the past decade, it has been reported.

An investigation by The Times found that 28 out of 93 British billionaires - 30% - have moved to tax havens or are in the process of relocating. 

They are said to be among 6,800 Britons running 12,000 UK firms from low-tax jurisdictions, including the Bahamas, Belize, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, the Channel Islands, Monaco and Switzerland.

Many of those who left the UK have been awarded honours or hold titles, with a viscount, one baron, six knights and one dame among the billionaires. 

“Some have bankrolled political parties while living offshore as successive governments have failed to enact a law passed in 2009 that would have banned large donations from anyone resident abroad for tax purposes,” says the newspaper.

Of the £5.5m donated to parties by Britons living in tax havens and their British firms since 2009, more than £1m was accepted by the Conservative Party in the months before the 2017 election, including £500,000 from Lord Ashcroft, who is based in Belize, claims the paper.

The Times says: “It is inequitable and unconscionable when the very wealthy can influence British public policy while not being subject to it in the same way as everyone else.”

By becoming non-UK resident for tax purposes, the super-rich can avoid 38.1% in UK income tax on dividends and 20% in capital gains tax on the sale of shares. Although HMRC said it did not have official figures on how much this costs, past estimates have suggested the UK misses out on £1bn of tax a year from those living in Monaco alone.

Last year, Sir Jim Ratcliffe, one of the wealthiest men in Britain and founder of the Ineos chemicals group, was revealed to be moving to Monaco and working with accountants on a legal tax-avoidance plan that experts say could deny the Treasury up to £4bn.

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