Can pay, won’t pay

Citizenship carries with it certain responsibilities as well as rights and dual citizenship can on occasions lead to even greater challenges. In the late 1990’s I was a financial adviser and one of my clients who was American born but with a British parent had dual citizenship for which he paid what seemed to me to be a high price. All of his tax affairs were dealt with twice, once by the HMRC and once by the IRS. The cost of administering this state of affairs was also significant as he relied on an Accountant who understood both jurisdictions. We had a number of conversations where I questioned what he felt were the benefit of this arrangement and I was never certain that the real answer was anything more than an emotional attachment to his place of birth. However he accepted that he had made a decision for which he needed to pay the Bill.

According to news reports over the weekend, my client and Boris Johnson have something in common, yet they appear to have made very different choices. My client would not be described by most people as being wealthy although he has a relatively comfortable lifestyle. He owns one home and his family run one car in the Brighton area. On the other hand Boris is someone whose personal wealth places him into a much higher league than my ex-client. However Boris despite this and his clear interest in the USA and its politics appears to have simply refused to pay his taxes to the nation of his Birth. According to news reports this is simply because he considers the liability an outrage. This is not dissimilar to the argument used by David Cameron over the demand he received from the EU a few weeks ago. These men are used to throwing their weight around. They understand that when they can pay for something but would rather not, that they have some negotiating power, and unlike people like my client, and most of us, they are not constrained to do what the rules tell them, even in settings where they formulated the rules!

The actions and attitudes of people like Johnson and Cameron should disqualify them from taking up the seats of power that both have sought out. However our society appears instead to reward them. Perhaps its time for a change?


About ianchisnall

I have a passion to see public policy made accessible everyone who want to improve the wellbeing of their communities. I am interested in issues related to crime and policing as well as in policies on health services and strategic planning.
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