Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) admitted last week that his tax rate was about 15 percent because his income mainly comes from investments that are taxed at lower rates than normal income. Romney’s income is also bolstered by the fact that several of his investments — worth millions of dollars — take advantage of offshore tax havens in the Cayman Islands to boost profits.
Many of those investments are associated with Bain Capital, the private equity firm Romney co-founded, which has an extensive history of using such tax havens to boost profits at a multi-billion dollar cost to American taxpayers. Those tax havens aren’t just causing outrage among Americans, however. The Cayman Islands are a British territory, and British MP John Cryer, a former member of the British Treasury Select Committee, told the British blog Left Foot Forward that it is “a disgrace” that corporations and investors like Romney and Bain can use them to avoid paying taxes:
“As a former member of the Treasury select committee, I think it is a disgrace that the Cayman Islands, a tax haven, can enable wealthy corporations and individuals such as Mitt Romney and others in the wealthiest 1% to avoid tax and still be cloaked in secrecy. Meanwhile all across the western world, hard-working people are seeing their living standards and take-home pay stagnate or reduced.
“It reminds me of President Kennedy’s comment in his inaugural speech, ‘pay any price, bear any burden’. Except it’s hard-working, modestly paid majority who are bearing that burden.”
According to Left Foot Forward, Cryer proposed a motion last week calling on the House of Commons to immediately close the Cayman Islands as a tax haven. The motion states that the House is “alarmed” by reports that Romney and others are using the Caymans to “avoid paying the same tax rate as other US citizens” and “concerned about the continued use of tax havens by the top 1% in the US and UK to avoid paying the correct tax in their own country.” The motion then “calls on the UK government to introduce urgent legislation to help close tax havens and increase transparency so that the very richest pay their fair share of tax in their respective countries.”
The United States loses $100 billion a year in tax revenue to offshore tax havens like the Caymans, according to the U.S. Public Interest Research Group.