THE DUCHY OF CORNWALL’S TAX AFFAIRS are to be analysed by the Public Accounts Committee as it explores whether Prince Charles pays a ‘fair share’ and why the estate does not pay corporation tax or capital gains tax.
The reasons Prince Charles (pictured) only pays income tax voluntarily on his earnings from the £847m property empire will also be scrutinised.
The prince’s principal private secretary William Nye will appear before the PAC this afternoon to give evidence on the royal’s accounts. He will be accompanied by the duchy’s finance director Keith Willis and the Treasury’s officer for accounts Paula Diggle.
The Duchy of Cornwall provides Prince Charles with a private income derived from property and other ventures.
Both the committee and its chair Margaret Hodge have attracted media attention over the past year for intense criticism of HMRC and the tax activities of businesses and wealthy individuals, often citing morality in cases where tax structures are legal.
In particular, Hodge has heavily criticised Google, Amazon and Starbucks for their use of offshore jurisdictions to drive down their UK tax liabilities. In a Public Accounts Committee hearing in November last year, she branded their practices “immoral”, and in a more recent hearing described Google as “evil”, in reference to the company’s mantra “don’t be evil”.
Royal officials maintain the duchy is a private landed estate, not a public body or corporation, and as such exempt from capital gains tax.
They add Charles pays income tax on money derived from the hereditary estate after business expenses are deducted.
He received a record £19m income from the 131,000-acre estate last year, while Clarence House said public funding for the prince fell £1m to £1.2m in the last financial year.