7 April 2016

Which laws on tax have the Camerons broken?


I landed back in Britain and absolutely everyone was talking about the Panama Papers. The baggage handlers at Heathrow were clustered around discussing the horrors of off-shore bank accounts and making bets on who will be in Jeremy Corbyn’s cabinet. In the passport queue too no-one was talking about anything other than the tax return of the Prime Minister’s father in 1982.

That’s not true. No-one has mentioned the Panama Papers to me, other than on Twitter where the world seems to be ending as a result of these “revelations”. I’ll write more about tax and why this overblown off-shore stuff is so toxic for the Tories (it confirms existing prejudices) and why they find it so difficult to fight back. In the interim I simply want to pose a question with answers in a multiple choice format.

Which laws did Ian Cameron or any of the Camerons break in relation to their tax affairs?

Is your answer…

a) None.

b) But, but, but that’s not the point. It’s just not the point…

c) They have broken laws that Jeremy Corbyn says should be introduced but haven’t been yet…

d) The Camerons are very rich, and even though the tax they have avoided paying is notional corporation tax to Panama (that Panama doesn’t impose or want) which means that any dividends coming back into the UK are bigger, incurring a bigger UK tax bill, representing a gain for the UK Exchequer, what we really have to focus on is that they are rich. Did I mention that they are rich?

e) The Camerons are not that rich (*)

(*) If you chose e) you have been hanging around with the wrong sort of people and need to spend more time outside Kensington and Chelsea.

Iain Martin is Editor of CapX