Some of Duncan Bannatyne's best friends may be non-doms, but he doesn't have to like it. The Dragons Den star wrote a lengthy piece in the Telegraph yesterday bemoaning the tax advantages on offer for non-dom entrepreneurs - such as his 'friend and colleague' (i.e. fellow Dragon) James Caan. However, this clearly went down badly at Caan HQ; his PR people rapidly put out a strongly-worded statement furiously denying the 'factually inaccurate' allegations. Now the Telegraph has taken the offending articles down - much to the annoyance of Bannatyne, who's currently taking on all-comers on Twitter. Should spice things up for the next series - particularly since Caan has just become a competitor of Bannatyne's...
In his forthright article for the Telegraph, Bannatyne argued that non-doms get an unfair advantage because they don't have to pay tax on all their company's UK earnings. 'Here's how it can happen', he explained: ‘A non-dom simply needs to say that his or her UK company is managed by a board of directors outside the UK and then make a charge to the company for ‘management services’. As a result, the company reports a lower profit, which means it pays less corporation tax, which means it has more money to plough back into the business. This puts UK entrepreneurs like him 'at a distinct disadvantage', he insisted.
As far as we could tell, Bannatyne didn't specifically accuse Caan of any funny business (and, indeed, waxed lyrical about what a great bloke he was). But he did describe his fellow Dragon's recent move into his sector (Caan has just bought five health clubs) as a 'case in point' that left him - i.e. Bannatyne - 'clearly at an unfair disadvantage'. So it's perhaps not surprising that Team Caan was very unhappy with the implication ; his PR people insist that he pays tax on all his UK earnings and as such has no 'unfair edge'. Which we're sure is absolutely true. Your Honour. (The Telegraph clearly thinks so too, since - much to Bannatyne's chagrin - it promptly took the piece down).
It may well be that Bannatyne's basic point about the non-dom laws is a good one: surely it's right to have a level playing field for all UK entrepreneurs, regardless of their tax status, and any law that affects that needs to be looked at. On the other hand, we're not sure having a pop at one of your colleagues in print is necessarily the best way to make your point - particularly if they don’t actually exemplify the problem (the cynic might also wonder whether there might be some special pleading involved, since Caan is now a competitor). Either way, it should add an extra frisson to their on-screen battles in the next series...
In today's bulletin:
Shock horror: Lloyds might actually make a profit this year
Mike Ashley gets short shrift from Blacks Leisure
Dragons Bannatyne and Caan get fiery over non-dom row
Use Budget to slash tax, says small business group
MT talks to Brora's Victoria Stapleton