The MPs on the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee have demanded
Prince Charles open his confidential accounts to full scrutiny amid claims of
tax avoidance running into millions of pounds.
They have written to the heir to the throne telling him they want the
National Audit Office to be able to inspect the finances of the Duchy of
Cornwall, his main source of income.
PAC chairman and former Tory Minister Edward Leigh said he wants to know how
much the Duchy of Cornwall and the Duchy of Lancaster, which provides the Queen
with an extra income, are exempt from corporation and capital gains tax.
One expert has calculated the move could save Prince Charles an annual
Leigh and his fellow PAC members have written to Prince Charles claiming that
it is wrong that he has escaped paying millions of pounds over the years.
But royal officials strongly deny any financial impropriety, and point out
that he has made public his tax affairs and voluntarily pays income tax.
But this has not satisfied the MPs on the PAC who have challenged both the
prince and chancellor Gordon Brown to make the full details of the prince’s
Duchy of Cornwall account public.
The Treasury has previously backed Prince Charles and the Queen over keeping
the Duchies’ accounts confidential and free of corporation and capital gains tax
saying they are for the ‘sole purpose’ of providing an income for the sovereign
and her heir, and provided an element of independence for them from the
government of the day.
The Duchy says there is no need for the NAO to audit them as they are already
fully scrutinised by PricewaterhouseCoopers.
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