The non-doms are fighting back. A large number of newspaper articles are starting to crop up, pointing to the dire consequences of actually asking these free-riders to pay a little tax. Here is a particularly pernicious example from Saturday's Times:
"The British public will miss out on seeing some of the greatest works of art in the world because of the Government’s tax plans for nondomiciled foreigners, the director of the Tate said yesterday."
Alarming stuff; without the non-doms, the UK will be turned into a cultural wasteland.
Funnily enough, I was outside the National Gallery on Saturday afternoon. Looking over at the building, I wondered whether the availability of art in Britain would disappear just because the Treasury charged non-doms an annual fee of £30,000 to be exempt from tax on their offshore income and gains. I doubt it somehow.
Perhaps I am being too complacent. However, I found this paragraph revealing:
"Five of the largest donors at the Tate are non-domiciles. They include Noam Gottesman, an American businessman and noted collector. He is believed to have given more than £1 million to Tate Modern’s construction and he bought a variety of art to fill the galleries – notably Untitled (Rooms) by Rachel Whiteread, a Turner prizewinner. "
A £30,000 fixed fee is unlikely to worry Mr. Gottesman too much. It is also doubtful whether any major benefactor would find this modest fee that "taxing". The advantages of non-domiciled status easily outweigh the cost of the exemption.
Of course, we all know that is really going on. The vast majority of non-doms are here to avoid tax in their home countries; they contribute virtually nothing, and they push up house prices. The UK economy would be better off without them.
It is time for them to go.