The Chancellor should be chasing millions in uncollected tax from owners of properties registered in tax havens, says a leading city councillor.
City Council Deputy Leader Councillor Graham Chapman says that in Nottingham alone there are well over 700 properties owned by firms registered offshore, which could net millions in tax.
Ahead of the Budget, he points to the revelations in the Paradise Papers to urge the Chancellor Philip Hammond MP to tackle tax evasion and avoidance by wealthy property owners, instead of carrying out further cuts to public services – cuts which have hit Nottingham harder than most.
In Nottingham alone, figures show that over 700 properties worth at least £786m are registered to companies abroad, mainly in tax havens such as the Virgin Isles, Hong Kong, Belize, Jersey and the Isle of Man – amounting to huge amounts of lost tax income in 2014. The properties include National Car Parks in St James’ Street, owned by Jersey-registered BNP Paribas, the Horse and Groom pub on Radford Road, registered in the Isle of Man, and the Litmus building on Huntingdon Street owned by a Guernsey registered company.
Over 100 of the properties are student homes – creating a double whammy for funding public services, since the City Council receives no Council Tax from the thousands of students living in the city. Many student houses in the Lenton Triangle for example are owned by Ship2SAR, based in Luxembourg and Luxury Student Properties of Jersey.
The Chancellor is expected to continue with the Government’s programme of austerity which since it began in 2010 has seen Nottingham City Council forced to make over £200m of savings to meet Government cuts. But Councillor Chapman told a recent Council meeting that the Government could choose to bring in billions of pounds by dealing with tax avoidance and evasion.
“Hundreds of millions of pounds in uncollected tax on properties in Nottingham alone would bring money into the UK economy which would mean that the austerity that is hitting places like Nottingham so hard wouldn’t be necessary,” he said.
“Unfortunately the Government has so far appeared unwilling to tackle the issue of tax evasion and avoidance by the well-off, instead choosing to hit the worst-off with austerity measures. Perhaps the release of the Paradise Papers will prompt the Chancellor to finally tackle this issue to boost the national economy in a way that isn’t at the expense of the poorest in society.
“If not, we will continue to see the NHS and Adult Social Care in crisis, under-resourced public services, an increase in homelessness and other social problems and people finding it harder to make ends meet as wages fail to keep up with the rising costs of living.”