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Paradise Lost

06 November 2017 | Lloyd Hughes

It’s set to be a nervous week for the many big names caught up in the Paradise Papers leak.

The phrase ‘tax haven’ always strikes a chord with the public. Anyone caught avoiding paying their fair share of tax is set for a roasting in the press and on social media.

The names leaked as part of the off-shore scandal so far are some of the biggest around. From multinational corporations such as Apple, Amazon and Nike, to celebrities such as Bono, Madonna and even the stars of Mrs Brown’s Boys; the leaks are far encompassing.

Rather shockingly the Queen has made it on to the list too. As a staunch monarchist (the monarchy brings in far more revenue than it takes out via the privy purse) I believe the Royals get enough flak from people moaning about them being tax-payer funded freeloaders, and this is sure to add ammunition to that negative assessment of their worth.

Having said that though, with the amount of people who say the Queen lives on state handouts, surely it’s better to go through a tax haven? She’s just saving the tax payer money in the long run (less tax on our taxes) according to their ill-informed logic, especially if it’s via Bermuda – a British Overseas Territory, after all.

It’s not that simple of course. Aside from the fact she’s exempt from tax under UK law anyway (so her income tax payments are all voluntary in the first place), the Duchy of Lancaster is managed by advisors and not the Queen. She’ll have had no input on her tax affairs, relying on her advisors to safeguard her reputation. This seems startlingly miss-placed now in light of the leaks.

While her financial advisors are to blame (off with their heads, I say), it will be the Queen, unfortunately, who bears the brunt of the resultant obloquy.

Having a considerable soft spot for the monarchy, I feel more annoyance for the likes of Bono. Or should that be St Bono of Dublin. He loves to portray himself as a philanthropist, backing umpteen charitable causes and really going to town with the public polishing of his halo.

My gripe with that is while he’s urging hard pressed families and individuals to make monetary donations to his various charitable undertakings, he’s still living the life of a rock star and coining it in big time.

You don’t see St Bono living in budget accommodation around the world whilst working hard to champion his ideals, before returning to his modest terraced-home in Finglas to recuperate. If he did, I’d have more respect. Until then, Bono, practice what you preach rather than telling everyone else to donate to your causes, especially if you’re masking your personal financial affairs behind a screen of shadowy tax schemes.

There’ll be more names revealed over the course of the next few days, so expect some serious PR fire-fighting. I’m sure there will be a few singed reputations before the leak is plugged.