It’s pretty common in the funeral business to have a family name over the door, even if the original owners sold up years ago. As different generations pass away, bereaved people return to the same trusted ‘local’ funeral director again and again, unaware that the ownership may have changed since the last relative died. Even my mother-in-law wanted to use her local funeral firm when she had a bereavement – because her family had always done so; convincing her that the people whose name was prominently displayed on the shop front were long gone was impossible.
Corporations pay huge sums to buy the goodwill, assets and trading names of businesses, because if the firm has a good reputation, they can capitalise on the previous owners hard work and make a tidy profit. This may sound like sour grapes on my part, but a former family-owned undertakers near me is now owned by a mysterious offshore trust. As I understand it, the benefit of an offshore trust is that its beneficiaries – in this case the people who I know are in day-to-day control – can work and live in the UK just like you and me, without the bother of corporation or inheritance taxes. Having your assets placed in an overseas trust means enjoying the benefits of ownership in the UK – but without the tax burden.
There are other advantages too; an acquaintance was a beneficiary of an offshore trust, set up by his father. He was divorced three times, and three times the highly profitable business he ‘worked for’ was not, technically, his for his ex-wives to take a share of. Quite legally, he was just an employee of the family firm – owned by the trust, and no-one could prove otherwise. When he passed away, the business didn’t attract a penny of inheritance tax, so his significant wealth passed tax free to his children.
This week, we finally discovered Boris and Rishi were Covid law-breakers, and the Chancellor was also (bizarrely) technically an American citizen. So much for taking back control from the EU! Until last week, Mr and Mrs Sunak lived with their children in Downing Street at our expense, despite her not being liable for taxes on her (massive) overseas earnings.
HMRC say that to qualify for ‘non-dom’ status, the claimant should intend returning to the country of their ‘normal’ residence. Mrs Sunak is of Indian descent; but undoubtedly, day-to-day, she lives here, with her husband and family.
Rishi aspires to be PM and, for all we know, at some point his wife does plan to return to India permanently – where her tidy £700 million fortune awaits her. She’s richer than the Queen! At first, Rishi claimed the revelations were a Labour ‘witch-hunt,’ before conceding that avoiding taxes when you’re the taxman isn’t a great career move.
Cheekily, he now wants an enquiry into who leaked the (truthful) information. How can people like them empathise with those whose lives are a constant struggle to make ends meet?
Where does all this leave our own law-breaking MP, Bob Seely, who seems to have escaped his sausage-gate party with second-homers without punishment? Just like the Westminster parties or ‘gatherings’ it was one rule for them and tougher rules for the rest of us. That ‘level playing field’ they love banging on about is a fiction, an insult to our intelligence.
Are you happy with the way these wealthy politicians carry on? Do you still know your place? I think a country that lets these sort of people run it needs its head examining!