FT columnist Merryn says Isle of Man is still a tax haven
Respected financial journalist Merryn Somerset Webb is fascinated by the Manx pound and believes it is of important interest as the Scottish independence debate rages on.
The Financial Times columnist also believes the Isle of Man is still a tax haven even though UK Prime Minister David Cameron has said in the House of Commons that it is not.
Merryn was in the island as guest speaker at a breakfast and economic briefing organised by Ramsey Crookall.
Later she told Business News: ‘I’ve only just started to learn about the Isle of Man. I spent all of yesterday evening in deep discussions about the tax system.
‘What I really think is interesting is the currency. I’ve been looking into the Manx currency because here we have a Manx pound that is intrinsically linked to the UK pound, but it does not have to be.
‘Scotland is looking to have its own currency that is also linked to the pound and so I want to try and find out a little bit more about how this currency union works with the Manx pound.’
She said the position was slightly different what with the island being ‘in a fabulous financial position and Scotland being in an appalling fiscal position. But it is quite an interesting idea’.
Merryn, who is also editor-in-chief of Money Week and a commentator on economics, financial markets and personal finance, was also full of praise for the island’s economic good health.
She said that with no fiscal debt, high average income and good growth, the island was in a ‘brilliant’ position. She agreed the island appeared to be in a better financial state than the UK. ‘There may be cracks that I haven’t perceived but on paper it’s great.’
She added: ‘I suppose the only fly on the ointment generally is the crackdown across western governments on any kind of tax haven and the Isle of Man is still a tax haven.’
Business News reminded Merryn that last September in the Commons Mr Cameron said the island was not a tax haven.
She replied: ‘Oh really? Do you think he was just being polite?’
Business News pointed out the island’s government had outlined its commitment to full transparency on tax matters. She replied: ‘You can co-operate fully and still be a tax haven.
‘It takes an awful lot of wealthy people out of the UK tax net . . . and that must be jolly irritating.’
Later she took to Twitter to discuss the island’s currency.
Last September Mr Cameron told MPs: ‘I do not think it is fair any longer to refer to any of the Overseas Territories or Crown Dependencies as tax havens. They have taken action to make sure that they have fair and open tax systems.’