Updated: 5th February 2020
Independent traders in the town of Crickhowell in the Brecon Beacons are in the process of declaring themselves ‘offshore’ in an effort to avoid business taxes they would otherwise be obliged to pay.
Detailed plans of how local businesses in the town intend to avoid paying corporation taxes have been submitted to HMRC, with a BBC camera crew following the processes involved and events as they unfold.
According to reports, the idea is for businesses including a local coffee shop, a bakery and an opticians in Crickhowell to dodge taxes by exploiting legal loopholes in much the same way as multinational corporations such as Google, Amazon, Starbucks and Facebook currently do.
Hopes among local traders are that their efforts to take advantage of the UK’s corporation tax loopholes might inspire other British towns to do the same and force the Treasury and HMRC to take a tougher line on offshore tax avoidance.
“We were shocked to discover that the revenue generated by hard-working employees in these British high street chains isn’t declared,” Jo Carthew, who runs a store that sells artisan produce in Crickhowell, told the Independent.
“We do want to pay our taxes because we all use local schools and hospitals but we want a change of law so everyone pays their fair share,” he said.
“Until now, these complicated offshore tricks have only been open to big companies who can afford the lawyers’ fees. But we’ve put our heads together, and worked out a way to mimic them. It’s jolly clever.”
The efforts to go offshore in the Brecon Beacons are being recorded for a documentary film called The Town That Went Offshore, which is set to be screened on the BBC in 2016.
Experts have been advising the local businesses in Crickhowell on how they might successfully declare their town to be offshore and avoid paying corporation taxes.
Mr Carthew explained that he and his fellow local traders have already had a “very good meeting” to discuss their taxation strategy with representatives of HMRC.
“Everything we have proposed is legal,” he said. “It’s a threat to the government because if they don’t act this could be rolled out to every town.”