Panama Papers

Panama Papers

I imagine that you will have picked up on the current big story – the Panama Papers. I imagine that this will rumble on for some time. There are lots of issues to discuss, the ability for the very wealthy to hide their wealth, those that facilitate this to happen, laws about secrecy, laws about laws, political corruption, money laundering, what is ethical, the difference between tax avoidance and tax evasion… not to mention data security.

I don’t know if my thoughts will add much to the discussion, suffice to say that “the system” (by which I mean global tax system) is so complicated that it is little wonder that it is exploited, or some may say “used to advantage”.

It is a sad state of affairs when the wealthy believe that they require such secrecy and the better questions will ask why it is really required. As for the tax system – nobody really likes paying tax, but of course if we want any sort of welfare state or viable social system, we need to combine resources collectively. I don’t know if the debate can be reduced to a matter of “vast wasted taxes spent by bureaucrats” or perhaps “we pay too much tax”.

The other Black List

Fairness is very difficult to define. The vast majority of people in the UK pay very little in direct taxes. The reality is that we are all, quite obviously, interconnected. Billionaires paying less tax than their staff simply does not seem fair in any form. I’m reminded of a line from “The Black List” in which the main character, Raymond Reddington, says “if I paid any tax I’d be furious at how it is wasted” or words to that effect.

Tax is one of those deeply divisive issues and of course is enmeshed with political ideology. Part of my job is to help clients minimise tax payments and use tax allowances properly. So I’m acutely aware that I’m part of the problem… essentially taking tax receipts off the table, so that more needs to be found. Nobody likes to see public money wasted, which merely compounds feelings of frustration. The Panama papers imply that those in charge of deciding how public finances are spent, don’t like the way they do it for their own nations.

Daring to think simply?

Does life have to be so complicated? If there was one rate of tax, would there be any need to hide money? (currently taxed at very different rates). If the very rich could declare their wealth properly, would more tax be collected? Is anyone immune from financial corruption as the numbers get larger and larger? Does the reality that the Offshore market exists confirm the suggestion that the very rich would leave, if tax rates are increased? Or have they effectively already left? Is it possible to have fair taxes when certain countries exist purely to defy such reasoning (Monaco). Certainly rather more is to be revealed by the #PanamaPapers and one thing that is certain to me…. this is not new news.

Dominic Thomas
Solomons IFA

You can read more articles about Pensions, Wealth Management, Retirement, Investments, Financial Planning and Estate Planning on my blog which gets updated every week. If you would like to talk to me about your personal wealth planning and how we can make you stay wealthier for longer then please get in touch by calling 08000 736 273 or email