Barclay Brothers' Ritz hotel 'has dodged tax for 17 years'
The billionaire twins are about to come under intense scrutiny over their tax arrangements
THE BARCLAY BROTHERS, the billionaire owners of the Telegraph newspaper, are the latest high-profile figures to come under scrutiny over their tax payments, with claims London’s Ritz Hotel has paid no corporation tax since they bought it 17 years ago.
With Starbucks and Google still dealing with the fall-out from revelations about their tax arrangements, the spotlight will turn tonight to the Ritz’s use of “legal tax reliefs” to reduce its corporation tax to zero, says The Independent.
The claims are made in a BBC Panorama programme which says at the same time as the Ritz paid no corporation tax, its wealthy owners are said to be waging a legal battle to get a £1 billion VAT refund. The brothers are chasing compound interest on a tax rebate stretching back 30 years, on behalf of the Littlewoods catalogue group which they took over in 2002.
The original £204 million refund has been paid to them, along with £268 million in simple interest. But the twins have taken their claim for a “massive extra payoff” as far as the European court of justice.
In the Panorama programme airing tonight the publicity-shy brothers respond to the claims by telling reporters that they are not involved in the day-to-day running of their UK companies The Ritz, The Telegraph and Littlewoods, which are controlled by off-shore trusts.
But the MP Nadine Dorries is unimpressed by that excuse, telling Panorama: "They're incredibly wealthy men who don't pay British tax. I think it is just utterly appalling."
The controversy over the Barclay Brothers’ tax payments comes hard on the heels of reports that Prince Charles's £700m estate is “a well-entrenched tax avoidance scheme”.
The Duchy of Cornwall, a £728 million enterprise that paid Prince Charles £18 million last year, does not pay any corporation tax, reports the Daily Mail. Clarence House says that’s because it’s a trust set up to generate income for the Prince of Wales and is not required to pay the tax. But Republic, an organisation that campaigns for an elected head of state, says the ancient estate is a separate legal identity to the Prince, so it is liable for corporation tax. The matter has been referred to the taxman.