Osborne announces plans to cut corporation tax

Chancellor George Osborne revealed his plans to cut the UK's corporation tax to 15% in Saturday's Financial Times. The move would nudge the UK's corporation tax levels to nearer to competitive markets such as Ireland and away from the average 25% of the world's major economies. Other plans include: a new push for investment from China; ensuring support for bank lending; redoubling efforts to invest in the Northern powerhouse; and maintaining the UK's fiscal credibility.

For background, Osborne's comments come following a memo dated 24 June 2016 with comments from Pascal Saint-Amans of the OECD, seen by Reuters. Parts of the note states: "The negative impact of the Brexit on UK competitiveness may push the UK to be even more aggressive in its tax offer... a further step in that direction would really turn the UK into a tax haven type of economy". In addition, previous WTO chief, Pascal Lamy, has spoken to the BBC and said: "The UK is already activating one of the weapons in this negotiation, which is tax dumping, tax competition."

Osborne defended his proposals in the Commons on Monday, reiterating his ambition to aim for a corporation tax rate of 15% "and preferably lower". Unsurprisingly this was opposed by the Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell, who argued that the current 20% rate did not bring in sufficient revenue. No timescale for this move was given  (although the earliest this could be implemented is next April) . Osborne concluded on these points with the statement that: "this is a blueprint to meet our economic challenge. Nothing positive will come from looking back in anger. We must lift our eyes to the horizon ahead and make the best of what is to come." The full exchange is here.

82 countries agree to OECD's benchmarks on transparency, common reporting and administrative assistance

Representatives from 82 countries have agreed to draft criteria that could be used to put non-cooperative nations and jurisdictions on an international blacklist.

At a meeting in Kyoto, hosted by the OECD, Chairman Masatsugu Asakawa noted that three benchmarks were discussed including; a country transparency level, with extra weight given to the rating given by an international group known as the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes; firm commitments to an internationally recognised common reporting standard; and an agreement to participate in international forums devoted to administrative assistance on tax matters.

"A jurisdiction is considered non-cooperative if it fails to meet more than one out of the three benchmarks. Even if a jurisdiction meets two of the three benchmarks, it would be considered 'non-cooperative' if it is considered 'non-compliant' with the Global Forum," Asakawa said in the chairman's written statement.

Crown dependencies ask PM to 'retain the status quo'

The Chief Ministers of Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man have jointly written to Prime Minister David Cameron asking him "retain the status quo" with respect to the EU.

In the letter, States of Guernsey Chief Minister Gavin St Pier, Isle of Man Chief Minister Allan Bell and Jersey Chief Minister Ian Gorst urged the Prime Minister to confirm that earlier "undertakings" to the effect that the three Crown Dependencies "will be kept informed on matters of interest to us are adhered to, and, where appropriate, are able to contribute to relevant discussions and negotiations".

"We believe our interests will be best served by a continuation, as far as is possible, of the substance of the current arrangements, and in particular, the provisions of Protocol 3 relating to trade in goods between the Islands and the EU," the three ministers said in their letter.
Cameron stated in the House of Commons this week that the Crown Dependencies will be consulted and involved in "relevant discussions" on the matters.

Impact of the EU referendum result on IFCs

Wealthbriefing has compiled a roundup of views from core international finance centres into how they perceive the global economy to pan out in light of the EU referendum. Views from the Isle of Man, Swiss Bankers Association, Monetary Authority of Singapore, Finance Malta, Guernsey Finance, Jersey Finance, BVI and Cayman Islands are included.

Similarly, Mourant Ozannes has summarised the current constitutional relationship of the British Crown Dependencies and the British Overseas Territorieshere.

Seychelles pushes forwards with plans for company ownership register

Seychelles is making plans to set up a company ownership registry in a transparency drive to trace ownership vital to combat money laundering.

Finance Minister Jean Paul Adam told Reuters that legislation had been drafted "that makes provision for registry of beneficial ownership" that would go before the National Assembly, or parliament. "The legislation will be passed before the end of this year," he said, adding that other changes to laws covering all companies in Seychelles, not just IBCs, were also going ahead.

"We want any company that establishes itself in Seychelles to feel confident that it is ... operating in an environment that offers world-class compliance and regulation," the minister said in a telephone interview on Tuesday.

Citywealth announces IFC Awards 2017 shortlist

Citywealth has announced its shortlist for the "IFC Awards 2017". The annual awards taking place in London commend the offshore industry for their achievements in global finance.

Nominated for IFC of the Year are:

  • Bermuda
  • Guernsey
  • Jersey
  • Malta
  • New Zealand
  • Singapore
  • USA