Prince attacked over Duchy estate's tax arrangements
THE Prince of Wales has come under attack after claims the Duchy of Cornwall is a "well-entrenched tax avoidance scheme".
Tax authorities and a parliamentary committee have been asked to investigate the Duchy's tax arrangements.
The anti-monarchy campaign group, Republic, said it had written to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and Margaret Hodge, chairwoman of the Public Accounts Committee, asking them to investigate the £728 million organisation's tax arrangements.
It claims an information commissioner ruling in November last year means the 675-year-old Duchy is a separate legal entity to the Prince and therefore liable for corporation tax. Clarence House disputed this, saying the Duchy is a trust set up to generate income for the Prince of Wales and not liable to pay the tax.
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West Cornwall MP Andrew George blamed the situation on the Duchy's "schizophrenic nature".
He said: "My personal view is it is not a private estate but has a whole range of constitutional roles that can't be divided from its business activities.
"The bottom line is the Duchy can't have it both ways. On some occasions it retreats and argues it's a private estate, in which case it should behave like a private estate and pay corporation tax. On other occasions it maintains its special constitutional status.
"It should not keep a foot in both camps for whenever it suits its schizophrenic nature."
Republic chief executive Graham Smith said that the Duchy, like Starbucks and Google, had a moral obligation to pay a fair rate of tax.
He said: "Unlike Starbucks Prince Charles doesn't have to create some complex network of overseas companies and offices.
"He simply insists that he shouldn't have to pay and hides behind his very own onshore tax haven. The Duchy clearly operates as a separate legal entity.
"The Duchy is simply a cash cow for the Prince and the Prince is clearly set on minimising his tax contributions."
The Prince receives the "revenue surplus" from the estate, and the Duchy's accounts show it grew by 2.8 per cent to £18.3 million in the last financial year.
A spokesman for Clarence House said: "The Prince voluntarily pays income tax on income generated by the Duchy, so there is no legal requirement to pay corporation tax and to do so would result in double taxation."