Thursday, July 25, 2013

A royal parasite?

Good Day Readers:

Perhaps the next time Charles and Camilla officially visit Canada they should pay their own way.

Clare L. Pieuk
Prince Charles accused of paying less tax than his servants
Charles's Duchy of Cornwall estate accused of tax avoidance

By Tom Sykes
Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Prince Charles has been accused by of paying less tax than his domestic servants British MPs sitting on a parliamentary spending watchdog who grilled the Prince’s staff over his finances.

Labour’s Austin Mitchell said: “In the figures published it appears that Prince Charles’ direct tax plus indirect tax is 24 per cent of his income for 2012 and 23.6 per cent for 2013. It looks to me that Prince Charles pays a smaller proportion in tax than any of his domestic servants.”

But the Prince’s private secretary, William Nye, said: “He pays income tax on his income after relevant business expenses.”
Chris Jackson/Getty Images

So just how rich is Prince Charles? Well, the Prince last year received an annual income from the Duchy of £19m, on which he paid £4.4m in income tax and VAT. The estate’s income included £1.3m in rent from Dartmoor Prison and £2m from Waitrose for the use of the Milton Keynes warehouse.

The Duchy of Cornwall estate, which finances the heir to the throne, is estimated to be worth close to $100m, but pays no corporation tax, even though it buys and sells assets and has trademarks. Its legal status is that it is a private estate.

Labour MP Nick Smith, MP for Blaenau Gwent, said: “If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, and swims like a duck you sort of assume it’s a duck. Given the Duchy of Cornwall looks and behaves like a corporation with income from complex investments, and quacks like a corporation with a council including the great and good from banking…many of my constituents would say the Duchy should pay corporation tax and capital gains tax. Aren’t my constituents being reasonable?”

Nye responded: "Essentially it's a set of properties that belong to the Duke of Cornwall. The fact that it's a large set of properties doesn't mean it is a corporation."

"You are really dodging around for tax purposes," said Austin Mitchell in increasingly testy exchanges. "[You say] it is not a corporation, but it is."

The committee, which has previously investigated alleged tax avoidance by Amazon, Google and Starbucks called for greater transparency in the Duchy's accounts and Charles's own spending.

A Channel 4 documentary recently revealed that The Duchy owns assets including a Waitrose supermarket distribution centre, a Holiday Inn hotel and is paid massive rent by Dartmoor Prison because the Duchy ‘owns’ Dartmoor.

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Tom Sykes is a writer and journalist, and he edits The Royalist blog for the Daily Beast. Tom has worked for many publications, including a stint as a nightlife reporter and gossip columnist for the New York Post. He has written several books, most recently helping John Taylor of Duran Duran write and edit his autobiography, published by Dutton. Tom lives in London and Ireland.

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