Springfords LLP blog

Some news, views and comments about everything and anything, relevant and irreverent.

Norman Non Doms

12 June 2015

Coming to Britain to avoid tax is in the news every day, but it’s nothing new, and in days gone by it has even been encouraged by the government.

Tax is all about raising revenue for public works, and how that’s done changes all the time.  At Springfords, we keep on top of the changes so we can ensure you make the best choices when it comes to efficient tax planning.

The government plans its taxes efficiently too.  The more tax raised, the more public works get done.  So, quite often, the tax regime is changed to encourage us to do things that raise more tax, without actually charging us more tax. 

How so? Well things like making it easier to employ people helps grow businesses and raises corporation taxes without raising corporation tax rates plus things like providing more free childcare to ensure mothers can work will in theory generate more tax paid from their employment. 

Yes, you thought marriage allowances were all about a philanthropic government supporting good old-fashioned family values.  Actually, the long term aim is to make it as attractive as possible to raise the next generation of tax payers. 

This all sounds a bit futuristic and geopolitical.  Gattaca with a PAYE number.  It might surprise you to learn that the idea is about a thousand years old.

Recent archaeological findings in sleepy Hereford found that the Normans - that’s the conquestors, not some medieval pop band - wanted a long-term return on their investment, and the late Harold’s subjects were proving less than co-operative in breeding tax payers for the new lords and masters.  Either that, or in a spot of short-term planning blight, they’d killed off most of the active males in the process of getting from Hastings to the Welsh border.

The simple solution would be to get lots of Normans to settle in and do what comes naturally with the comely maidens of their new kingdom.  However, not many messieurs les Normans were keen to give up Europe on the verge of the Renaissance for the less than great Britain, no matter how earthy the charms of comely local maidens like Chelsea and Chavica.  This wasn’t a job for Norman archers, Cupid would need to be on target.

That’s the answer that appears to have been discovered in an ancient statute, passed in Hereford.  The encouragement came in the form of the tax break of all time.  It says that any Norman man who settled with a local woman would enjoy a lifetime free from taxes of any description.  Who says they didn’t have time for romance back then.

That was enough to prompt a second wave of Norman conquests, and as a policy it worked in a way that any modern Chancellor would surely envy. 

Those clever archaeologists tell us that subsequently, almost every local woman was paired with a Norman partner.  Subsequent parish coffers in years to come were doubtlessly enhanced when all the inevitable Anglo-Norman offspring became economically active.

The whole Conquest thing might have been one in the eye for Harold, but a tax savvy Norman Cupid most certainly had his eye in when it came to modifying the tax base for future revenues.  Whether it’s today or a millennia ago - romance and tax continue to be an unlikely couple.

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Some news, views and comments about everything and anything, relevant and irreverent.

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