As Hacienda, the Spanish tax authority, continues to chase ‘the little man’ with more enquiries, inspections, taxes and IVA, what news of those millonarios who keep their money in Offshore Tax Havens?
A fiscal amnesty put into place in June by the Government to bring back money stashed offshore with a flat 10% tax on the entire sum returned and reported was looking like a flop after only 6% of the estimated 2,500 million euros of the expected surge of money had in fact shown up by late October.
An estimated figure (when was it ever anything else?) of 71.7% of all money which eludes the Spanish Tax-man is said to come from grandes fortunas y corporaciones empresariales – the über-wealthy and large companies. Despite this, it is reported that Hacienda prefers to spend most of its energies on investigating the self-employed, small companies and ordinary private-sector employees.
According to the BBC, the world’s ‘super-rich’ were holding at least $21 trillion in ‘secret tax havens’ at the end of 2010. Where much of it is evidently going to stay.
The amnesty, which ran out on the final day of November, eventually collected 1,200 million euros of off-shore money – a miserly portion of the hoped-for sum.
The Minister for Hacienda y Administraciones Públicas, Cristóbal Montoro, in a final attempt to increase the amount, had reminded the wealthy in late November that crimes against the Public Purse are never ‘prescribed’ – which must have encouraged a few of Spain’s wealthier patrons of the Swiss banking system to roll over.
Thus, the fiscal amnesty which was to bring in untold millions from off-shore bank accounts, paying a measly 10% and no questions asked, was anything other than a success, with less than half the expected windfall collected.
An amusing article in a Spanish web-page called ‘Voxpopuli’ notes that Hacienda should have sent a photographer to Geneva airport in late November to record the long lines of people wearing dark glasses while carrying little more than a bulging briefcase and queuing up for their flights to Spain.
Now it seems that the civil servants who make up the staff of Hacienda were against the idea from the start and they have decided, despite guarantees to the contrary from the Department of the Treasury, to audit all those millonarios who, gritting their teeth as they reluctantly decided to do the right thing, sidled into the bank recently with a heavy suitcase. It hardly needs saying that this poor sportsmanship on the part of Hacienda will probably discourage others from stepping forward at a later amnistía fiscal.
A tax-man from Hacienda, writing on Monday in the ‘Nueva Tribuna’, suggests that a reorganisation of Hacienda and the Tesoro Público (in charge of the politics of the economy), allowing more focus on the Wealthy, would generate savings and weaken the ‘underground economy’ with an estimated increase in revenue to the State of over 6 billion euros.