The Transparency for Individuals, Trusts and Companies Regarding Anything Bill (TITCRAB) is still being debated by the House of Commons. A private member’s bill, promoted by long serving Labour MP Michelle Meacher with the support of Lib Dem, Green, other Labour members and, of course, the entirety of civil society.
I have to admit to completely agreeing with everything in this Bill, not least as I wrote it on Michelle’s behalf. You will, of course, have noticed references to all my books in the “Also by this author” section.
My TITCRAB tackles the following things:
Tackling multinational corporation opacity
My TITCRAB has broad ambitions. First it aims to tackle the opacity that exists in the affairs of multinational corporations. Of course, we can’t distinguish between multinationals and nationals because then we wouldn’t be able to apply this Bill to multinationals operating in EU countries. So when I say multinationals, I mean every single company.
All companies must publish accounts of all their subsidiaries on their websites, in English and amended for UK GAAP, so I don’t have to keep spending money on downloading their accounts. They should also include a ten-thousand word essay on why tax avoidance is immoral.
If a company fails to do this, The State is allowed to confiscate the company in question.
Bringing back Top of the Pops but for tax returns (and without Jimmy Savile)
Second, my TITCRAB tackles the opacity in the tax affairs of both large companies and wealthy individuals in the UK by requiring that the tax returns of the top 250 in each group should be put on public record.
The State needs to know what its enemies weaknesses are so it can crush them. Once it has crushed the first 250, or forced them to leave the country, it will crush or scare off the next 250.
The aim of this measure is not to provide policy-makers with more information because politicians can receive this information already in anonymised form (supposedly to protect citizens’ “privacy”). This is clearly no good unless they can give it to me and tell me who it relates to so I can decide whether they are avoiding tax or not.
The first piece of information I need is their name, so I can determine whether they are a neoliberal or not. As such, I have been able to eliminate Margaret Hodge, Ken Livingstone and Guardian Media Group of any wrong-doing without even looking at their financial affairs.
A weekly show running down these top 500 neoliberals will be hosted by Shane Richie and broadcast on BBC1 during prime time viewing.
Removing privacy for the most important and sensitive information
The rest of my TITCRAB focuses on making a register of beneficial ownership of everything. The State cannot confiscate what it doesn’t know exists.
All trusts and companies must place their beneficial owners on public record.
By looking at trusts we’ll be able to see which individuals are considered too irresponsible, or too vulnerable, to have full legal ownership of certain assets. I can’t see any problem with this, not least from risk of fraud and personal security for those individuals.
But my TITCRAB primarily hates UK companies which enjoy the benefit of limited liability that grants their members a considerable advantage of not being responsible for the debts of the company that they own.
Where a company is failing in its duty to publish accounts on their website (and the tax justice essay), it is probably committing fraud and avoiding or evading taxes that contribute to a tax gap of hundreds of billions of pounds a year according to the esteemed view of the Comptroller General of the Justice for Taxes Network.
So, you see, it is an inevitable conclusion that the beneficial owner of companies must be registered with Companies House. Because it is not like the JTN to overcook their figures.
Making banks report beneficial ownership
As most companies form for dishonest purposes, it is a bit naïve to assume they will voluntarily comply with the law without coercion. So my TITCRAB also places a new obligation on banks to publish the information that they collect on their limited company clients under money laundering regulations.
I can’t see how this information might be used by others for illegal purposes like fraud.
Making cash security vans report collection schedules
To compliment the above measure about banks, it is about time that all businesses involved in collecting cash from businesses and delivering them to banks reported exactly when they are going to collect money from businesses. Vans will be required to carry publicly accessible GPS tracking devices.
The van drivers will also be required to publish details of family who might be abducted by criminals and used as leverage.
Removing the limited liability of companies that don’t report data
Those banks and security companies would also have to supply the information to HM Revenue & Customs. After all, nobody at HMRC actually knows how to use the internet. So banks will be required to send them a typed letter. The only approved font is Arial14.
The use of underline, bold and italics is strictly prohibited.
The sanction for failing to supply any information demanded from a company by either Companies House or HMRC would be a simple one: the limited liability of the company would be removed and the directors and beneficial owners would become punishable for the company’s offences.
As the company would usually be dissolved or liquidated, the directors and owners will therefore be dissolved or liquidated, depending on their Body Mass Index.
Extending the law to everywhere else in the world
That does, however, highlight a problem that the Bill also seeks to tackle. It would be all too easy for people to try to get round the requirements of the Act if it were possible to conduct business anywhere else in the world and so avoid all these rules.
As a result the Bill extends the requirement that a company should have information on its beneficial ownership and its accounts on public record to the anywhere else in the world.
This will prevent businesses locating in countries which don’t have a TITCRAB because they will all be under the jurisdiction of my TITCRAB. This is how true democracy works.
My TITCRAB as a whole is, then, a concerted attempt to show that not only is tax avoidance, tax avoidance and transparency an issue of international concern but that it is also one that is firmly within the grasp of The State of Courage.
The abuse that my TITCRAB tackles costs the UK hundreds of billions a year, according to estimates by the Fuhrer of Researchers for Taxes UK, which is money that could be frittered away on failed IT projects or illegal wars in the Middle East.
Or, at the very least, subsidising the bars in Westminster.
If the UK government is not willing to raise such money by invading the privacy of each and every UK citizen, I will want to know why not.
The Dispatch box beckons the minister who will oppose my TITCRAB.