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Tax publicity ‘will not affect Jersey during Brexit’

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NEGATIVE reports about tax measures in the Crown Dependencies will not affect the Island’s position during Brexit negotiations, senior UK politicians have said.

Chief Minister Ian Gorst and British and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at the British-Irish Council summit in Jersey

Politicians from across the British Isles met in Jersey on Friday for the 29th British-Irish Council summit, with the ongoing Brexit negotiations one of the core topics discussed.

And the chief ministers of Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man strongly rebutted claims made in leaked documents – the Paradise Papers – that the Crown Dependencies were centres for tax avoidance.

Robin Walker, UK Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, said that he did not believe the allegations within the Paradise Papers would have a negative impact on how Jersey was represented by the UK government during Brexit negotiations.

And he added that UK officials were ‘in touching distance’ of a deal to securing the rights of EU citizens living in the UK and the Crown Dependencies.

Delegates including Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and the UK’s Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, James Brokenshire, discussed the commitment of all members of the BIC to upholding international tax standards.

Mr Walker said: ‘What we need to continue to do is to work together to improve tax transparency and apply the international standards on that front. That is a process that each of the Crown Dependencies have been engaged with for a long time.

‘The UK will absolutely continue to represent the interests of the Crown Dependencies during the negotiations.’

Mrs Sturgeon, meanwhile, said that it was important to remind people why it was important to pay taxes, as they paid for vital public services.

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She said: ‘My view is very clear and I think it is shared amongst all of us here. We must have rules and regulations that properly promote tax transparency but also operate to close down any tax loopholes that people are using in order to unfairly minimise the tax that they pay.

‘I strongly believe that the approach to tax should not be that wealthy people should concentrate on how little they can get away with paying. People should pay what they are fairly due to pay and that is the position that was reflected throughout the discussions.’

Meanwhile, Guernsey’s Chief Minister, Gavin St Pier, and the Isle of Man Chief Minister, Howard Quayle, both defended their jurisdictions’ tax policies. The Isle of Man in particular has been strongly criticised for measures in place that allegedly allow people to dodge VAT on their private aircraft.

Mr Quayle added that the Isle of Man aircraft registry was ‘very well regulated’ and that the island ‘clearly follows the UK rules and regulations on VAT’ and that ‘no evidence’ regarding alleged wrong-doing in relation to the island’s registry had been provided.

Asked whether the Paradise Papers might lead to negative approaches to Jersey’s Brexit requests, Senator Gorst said: ‘All the people around the table accepted that it is not fair to call us tax havens. With regard to the policy makers in the UK, they understand that.’

The next BIC summit is due to be held in Guernsey next year.

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