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Tax Evasion

A global super-rich elite has exploited gaps in cross-border tax rules to hide an extraordinary £13 trillion ($21tn) of wealth offshore – as much as the American and Japanese GDPs put together – according to research commissioned by the campaign group Tax Justice Network. (Article here)

A far-reaching new study suggests a staggering $21tn in assets has been lost to global tax havens. If taxed, that could have been enough to put parts of Africa back on its feet – and even solve the euro crisis. (Article here)

The Tax Justice Network - Tackle Tax Havens - Treasure Islands

Next time someone extols the benefits of tightening our collective belts in these times of economic hardship and/or suggests that illegal/legal immigrants (do they even know the difference?) and benefits scroungers are bankrupting the UK then please feel free to point out some important home truths. Undoubtedly the populist nationalist right and their lackeys in the UK press would love us all to keep our eyes off the ball and continue searching for some ragged scapegoat or other but they are a drop in the ocean compared to the tax evasion of the super rich and large corporations. If there is one issue that could unite the left across various ideological frontiers then surely tax evasion is it.  

In Cornwall we have our very own tax haven but it only seems to work for one man. The extract below is taken form John Kirkhopes The Duchy of Cornwall - A Very Peculiar Private Estate.

Firstly it should be noted that the Duke of Cornwall is entitled to the income of the Duchy but not the capital.

Next, in the report issued by the House of Commons in 2005 it was stated: “In accordance with normal practice the Duchy is not subject to tax as it is not a separate legal entity for tax purposes. However, His Royal Highness is subject to income tax on the Duchy’s net income.”

The statement is surprising and difficult to understand. Effectively, the Duchy is exempt from capital gains tax and presumably inheritance tax. Asset sales, on which capital gains tax may potentially have been due, have totalled £123 million since 2001. Presumably this considerable benefit makes the task of running a ‘well managed’ private estate much easier.

It is in this regard that the Duchy website is misleading. It states: “The Prince of Wales already pays income tax on the Duchy’s surplus.”

He does not. He pays voluntarily an amount equal to the income tax he would have paid if he had been liable.

In reply to a question from the public accounts committee Mr Ross stated: “The Prince pays tax on a voluntary basis in exactly the same way as any other taxpayers.”

I don’t know how many of us pay tax on a voluntary basis.

The Duchy enjoys a highly privileged tax status unique to a ‘private estate’. In accordance with ‘normal practice’ it does not pay capital gains tax or inheritance tax and income tax is paid on a voluntary basis. The last figures published show the Duke’s income from the Duchy was £16 million. His voluntary contribution, equal to the income tax, would be £3 million.For completeness sake the Duchy does pay VAT. 

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