A group of foreign demonstrators are expected to be protesting outside Ugland House in downtown George Town Thursday afternoon.
According to a press release issued Thursday morning, a group of 50 Americans “traveling in the Caribbean with the US weekly magazine The Nation” will protest the US companies that use the “Cayman Islands as a tax haven so they can cheat the US people out of much-needed tax dollars”.
The action is being organized by the activist group CODEPINK and is – according to the group – the first-ever protest by US citizens held on the island nation.
“It is taking place at a time when US officials are engulfed in a tug-of-war over what budget cuts to make to avoid what they are calling the ‘fiscal cliff’,” said CODEPINK co-founder Jodie Evans. “The US deficit could be solved with the $150 billion a year that could be recovered from these offshore tax shelters.
“The American people, exposed to the issue of tax cheaters during Romney’s presidential bid, believe that corporations should pay their fair share,” said CODEPINK co-founder Medea Benjamin. “That’s why we are here, in the Cayman Islands, to demand that corporations bring the tax dollars home.”
The issue of foreign ‘tax havens’ – particularly the use of Ugland House in Grand Cayman as the registered address for foreign-based corporations – has been a favourite target of President Obama’s administration.
In response to the criticism law firm Maples and Calder has launched a dedicated website www.uglandhouse.ky explaining the nature of companies registered in the Cayman Islands. “Amongst other things, companies registered at Ugland House have been described as ‘shells’, owned by individuals to evade tax and take advantage of secrecy laws. This is not the case and mischaracterizes the true purpose of setting up Cayman companies,” the website notes.
Maples and Calder maintains that rather than tax avoidance, the main benefit for companies registered in Cayman is “tax neutrality”, as individuals and companies remain subject to taxation in their home country.
“Cayman Islands entities provide a tax neutral platform so that investors from multiple jurisdictions are not subject to additional layers of foreign taxation in addition to the investors’ home country tax,” according to the website.
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