We’re all – including the Duchy – in it together
Commenting on today’s questioning of Duchy of Cornwall officials about the Duke’s tax arrangements, the MP for West Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, Andrew George, said that although the Duke was not obliged to pay tax he now has an opportunity to start a new and more constructive contract with his subjects, especially in relation to his tax liabilities.
Mr George said, “Cornish people are proud of the very unique constitutional status of Cornwall and Scilly. This is, in part, represented by the existence of the constitutionally unique Duchy. But attempts to develop this role are often routinely brushed aside by a Duchy which, on those occasions, prefers to define itself in terms of being a ‘private estate’.
“If it’s a ‘private estate’ then it ought to be treated by Government as a ‘private estate’ – for tax purposes, etc. Though I am not sure that that would benefit the people of the Duchy.
“To be fair, the Duchy doesn’t appear to be engaged in the industrial scale style tax avoidance of Starbucks/Google. So it would help itself if it came clean about what it pays in tax – which, in any case, is mostly on a voluntary basis – and those taxes, like Capital Gains and Corporation tax, which it does not pay. Those matters could be subject to further conversations and a new contract between Crown and State.
“On balance, the Duchy provides a fairer relationship with its tenants and leaseholders on the Isles of Scilly than would be the case if the estate were run on purely commercial lines. That is something which the Duchy should build upon.
“In response to criticisms about the management of its tax affairs, the Duchy could ‘turn a new leaf’ and be more transparent about its relationship with the State. It could be clearer about its unique constitutional role in relation to Cornwall and the Scillies and be more transparent about the taxes it pays and those it does not.”
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