Whose windows? Tory HQ owned by tax dodgers
This post is by land campaigner and author Andy Wightman, and first appeared on his blog.
Amidst all the press coverage of the student demonstration in London on Wednesday, one small question was niggling me as I watched the windows being smashed in Millbank Tower.
Whose windows? Who owns Millbank Tower? As it happens, the same question was ocurring to Alex Barker of the FT. His blog claims that it is the Reuben brothers. However, I am always a bit doubtful of such claims as they tend to be born of popular knowledge. Just as the Duke of Buccleuch does not own any of the Buccleuch Estates (see Ch.29 of The Poor had No Lawyers), it is unlikely that the Reuben brothers own Millbank Tower in their own name.
A 2 minute search of the Land Registry turned up Title Number NGL886677 together with a plan which reveals that the 21-24 Millbank and 25 and 30 Millbank are owned by Basio Holdings Ltd. of 1 Palm Chambers No. 3, PO Box 3152, Road Town, Tortola, British Virgin Islands.
So the Conservative Party (who rent offices in No. 30) are paying rent to a company in the British Virgin Islands. I hope they are aware of the Non-Resident Landlords Scheme.
Just because no staff were injured doesnt make what happened right. If a mob tore through the building I worked in I would be fearful. Are you sure all your friends and family would welcome vandalism in their workplace with open arms? None of them would be unhappy? All would welcome rioters with open arms? A person who throws a fire extinguisher of the top floor of a building is not sane and not safe to be around. It doesn’t matter who owns the building. Its about the people inside surely?
I saw the news and live pictures and there were hooded and masked people actively trying to set fire to the building. That was some kind of benevolent bonfire was it? The policeman stomping it out was a killjoy was he? As for the bigger bonfire, I bow to your fire safety knowledge regarding its threat but ask why there are not more bonfires that close to buildings given the lack of threat? Nov 5th just passed and I am sure that all the bonfires in Scotland were in big fields.
I agree that tax systems should be tightened (in many cases made very tight) and that a land value tax for business and landowners (i.e. not actually living and working full time on the land) would be a far better situation for many reasons including taxation and environmental concerns.
Its just I can never see myself scarring other people witless to achieve it.
(oh and the shame point won’t work. If the law breakers on Wed are to be lauded as heroes, as they are on this site, then law abider’s wont care)
The simple solution (which probably raise £ billions) is to make it unlawful to record title to land in the UK in the name of any natural or legal person who is not resident (if a natural person) or registered in (for legal persons) a member state of the EU.
Shareholdings could of course be held offshore but the tax liability would then be caught. Capital gains tax will not be paid on the sale of Millbank for this simple reason that the owners are in the British Virgin Islands.
Of course the long term answer is land value taxation which eliminates land speculation and allows these capital flows to be invested in the real economy.
“If this company have not been paying the taxes they should have been paying, then they should not expect police protection”
Yet I bet they have paid all taxes that are legally levelled against them. Is this again a case of confusion tax minimisation with tax evasion?
“Therefore, the police should have left that property to get whatever was thrown at it. Simples!”
So what about the people who work in those buildings? The mob this week did not target politicians or those or work for them – they targeted the workers of companies like free software developers Canonical, the kitchen cleaners of the restaurants and the administrators in the UK India Business Council. Did they not deserve police protection?
Have people who support mobs forgotten the murder of the Greek bank workers who died when they were trapped due to fire? These were not the fabled uber rich bankers but basic branch workers.
The think others wise is indeed Simples.
This is just ridiculous Douglas. No staff were injured yesterday. No staff were attacked. Stop implying otherwise. And why bring up the tragic deaths in Greece. No one set fire to the tower, there were small bonfires outside that clearly endangered no one. It’s completely over the top to suggest that any people were under threat yesterday.
The only ‘violence’ was between police and protesters and damage to the building, which is owned by people who don’t pay tax here and hence contribute nothing to the police who were trying to protect the property.
No one is confusing tax avoidance with tax evasion, we know the difference legally. Andy never suggested the owners had broken the law as it stands. What we would disagree with is that there is a moral difference between legal and illegal non payment of taxes. The law should be tightened to prevent this kind of minimisation and in the mean time people who try to avoid tax should be shamed into paying it.
If this company have not been paying the taxes they should have been paying, then they should not expect police protection, as they have not paid into what is effectively a communal protection scheme.
If someone didn’t pay their insurance payments and their house burned down, they can’t expect any compensation.
Same applies to these businesses (and it is a business) not insuring their assets through taxes; if something out of the blue happens then their risk has turned bad.
Therefore, the police should have left that property to get whatever was thrown at it. Simples!