Speaking of Paradise (for clergy)

Dear clergy friends,

I am thinking of setting up a Paradise Scheme for clergy (this is a spoof). Yes, I know we already have one, a Paradise Scheme, but really it is a bit of a tired old story. And, why wait?

Let me start by explaining that I used to work in the city and have been a director of an offshore umbrella fund. I know about hedge funds and the like. Its part of my past, part of my history. I thought that I had left such things, such deeply temporal things, behind some years ago when I finally listened to and followed my calling but now I am rethinking things; renewing my mind once more, following Paul’s advice.

Perhaps an opportunity now exists to redeem my past for the good of the clergy?

So this is how the Clergy Paradise scheme might work:

An offshore company could be set up to receive and administer clergy stipends. Each member of the clergy, irrespective of whether the size of their stipend, that subscribes would hold one share in the company. It is important that Clergy Paradise Holdings demonstrates a commitment to equality, after all we must always hold before us a vision of the kingdom and, take seriously our prayer that ‘thy kingdom come on earth as in heaven.’ 

On the same day that the stipends are paid into the holding company (gross of tax), a loan will be issued to each shareholder for the exact same amount as their gross stipend, less a small administration fee. We should be able to negotiate a fee of in the region of 0.5%. Because, we would now be receiving the value of our stipends as a loan, rather than as income, no further tax liability would be incurred. The loan isn’t of course a loan in the conventional sense. It is simply an ‘asset swap.’ The value of the loan is simply the value of the monthly stipend which is repaid in full each and every month.

The scheme would therefore be making a valuable contribution to one of the church’s preoccupations: ‘clergy well being.’ A better paid cleric is a happier cleric. Shareholders (which in time we hope will include all stipendiary clerics) will also be making a real contribution towards the Church of England’s ‘simplification,’ programme for no longer will payroll be forced, through the coercive nature of the government’s tax policies, to divide the gross stipend into tax, national insurance, and take home pay. One simple payment is all that will be required.

The management company for the clergy pension scheme should also be moved offshore so that arrangements can be made for ensuring that payments from the scheme are also exempt from taxation. Clergy well-being should be from ordination to the grave.

The Memorandum and Articles will make it clear that part of the rationale behind Clergy Paradise Holdings is to preserve the distinction between clergy and laity. What better way to do so than through the creative use of corporate structures and tax avoidance for the sole benefit of the clergy?

It is of course right and proper that investors are warned of the potential risks. The risks in a sense fall outside of the scheme itself. But, they do relate to the word ‘paradise.’

As clergy we are unfortunate that some of our historical texts seem to suggest that the love of money causes problems. These same texts do in fact talk about taxation (although it is important not to take them out of context) and, duty to society at large (again these shouldn’t be taken out of context).  This is a situation not of our own making. We didn’t write the rules we simply inherited them. So what can be done?

I would like to suggest that a small and carefully selected group of  ‘prosperity theologians’ are tasked with the job of reinterpreting these texts. The alternative is simply to redact them. If the offending (and offensive) texts can be faithfully reinterpreted or redacted then I am confident that the scheme will be the first ever ‘risk free’ investment. The Clergy Paradise Scheme is uniquely designed to cater as much for the wallet as for the soul, this being neatly captured in our new strap line (which has of course been registered in all major off shore tax havens & some minor ones as well):

‘Clergy Paradise Holdings: requisite for the wallet as for the soul.’ 

Yours in Paradise,

Andrew

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