Tax Havens Key Issue in Brexit Process

A number of tax havens under British control are demanding a say in Brexit negotiations. Several British overseas territories, including Anguilla, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, and Turks and Caicos Islands, are all widely regarded as tax havens.

Dr. D. Orlando Smith, the premier of the British Virgin Islands, has specifically called on the British government to take into account the voices of British overseas territories throughout the Brexit process. The British Virgin Islands is an important tax haven globally, and has no corporate tax, no capital gains tax, no VAT, and no inheritance tax. More than 100,000 companies were incorporated by Mossack Fonseca, the law firm at the heart of the Panama Papers debacle, in the British Virgin Islands.

As the United Kingdom looks towards new horizons and realigns its relationships globally, it should see the positive role that Overseas Territories can play,” said Dr. Smith, who is also the president of the UK Overseas Territories Association Political Council, which represents the interests of overseas territories. “We are also absolutely clear that we want to have our voice heard when it comes to ensuring there are no unintended consequences for the Overseas Territories as the UK negotiates its exit from the European Union. We require high-level engagement – just like the devolved administrations of Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland – and we want a deal which works for the whole UK family.”

There are concerns that the overseas territories will be more vulnerable to EU clampdowns on tax havens once the UK leaves, as several EU countries have proposed more aggressive policies on tax havens. The risk of an EU crackdown has been mitigated by the UK’s presence in the EU representing the interests of its overseas territories, but once the country exits, there are concerns that that could change.

The UK government, however, has said that overseas territories will be involved in the exit negotiations. “The UK Government is committed to involving Overseas Territories, in accordance with our various constitutional relationships, as it prepares for negotiations to leave the EU. This will ensure that our priorities are taken into account,” Premier Michael Dunkley told the House of Assembly last month.

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