“A Tax Haven sitting in the Irish Sea”

Alistair Darling

I’m sure we all remember this quote from the Chancellor of the day back in the gloomy days of the global financial crisis and his boss saying there was a need to look again at the relationship between Britain and those clinging to the rock in the Irish Sea.  Well perhaps not quite those words but you get the gist.

Fast forward a few years and we now have the current British PM saying he does not think it fair to continue to refer to the offshore centres as tax havens.  Unfortunately for Jersey, BVI and Bermuda it seems that France does not share a similar view and has promptly placed them on the naughty list.

So, why the (Irish) sea change in view from the British Government?  Is it because of the shades of blue rather than red colouring the thinking of ministers or is it due to the hard work of the Manx Government over the years.

The Isle of Man signed its first Tax Information Exchange Agreement (TIEA) in 2002 and now has about 30 on the concluded pile, along with a dozen double taxation agreements.  Importantly, we will have concluded TIEAs with two African countries, both of whom could be described as developing nations.  It is worth noting that critics of offshore centres have often claimed they are used to siphon funds from such developing countries.

Treasury Minister Eddie Teare believes we have engaged with the international community over many years. The UK government and international organisations realise the Island has been realistic and reasonable in its dealings with them.  It wasn’t by luck that in 2009 the Island was placed on the OECD’s white list of co-operative jurisdictions.