MPs Scrutinise Duchy’s Tax Affairs

Hugh House, the offices of the Duchy of Cornwall in Scilly

Hugh House, the offices of the Duchy of Cornwall in Scilly

The Duchy of Cornwall’s tax affairs have been scrutinised by MPs on the public accounts committee.

They were told that Prince Charles doesn’t have to pay corporation or capital gains tax.

William Nye said the Duchy of Cornwall is not a corporation and that the prince pays income tax voluntarily.

The Duchy provides income for the heir to the throne and the prince received £19m last year, with just over £4m paid in income tax and VAT.

He doesn’t pay capital gains tax. That is reinvested for “future dukes.”

If parliament changed the situation, taxpayers would end up spending more on his royal duties, MPs were told.

Local MP Andrew George said Prince Charles now has an opportunity to start a new and more constructive contract with his subjects, especially in relation to his tax liabilities.

Campaigners have argued for clarity on whether the Duchy is private or public, as that would have a bearing on their tax status and whether they had to open their books.

Mr George argues that changing the Duchy’s historic status to a private organisation may not benefit islanders. He feels that the Duchy provides a fairer relationship with tenants and leaseholders in Scilly than would be the case if the estate were run on purely commercial lines.

However, Garrison resident and Duchy reform campaigner Alan Davis doesn’t agree.

He says if the Duchy’s “social housing” was in the hands of a Housing Association, did not compete in the holiday-let market, paid all taxes and published harbour accounts, then the MP may have a point.

Alan calls The Duchy, “a medieval entity” that plays the modern world and acts as a hardnosed commercial enterprise, with unique privileges that provide it with a competitive advantage.

He suggests that the Duchy is wound up and Charles and his family put on the same payroll as the other royals.

A Clarence House spokesperson told us: “The Duchy produces an Annual Report and Accounts every year, giving details of their activities and finances. The Prince of Wales’s Annual Review explains that he pays income tax at the higher tax rate on the income generated by The Duchy of Cornwall.”