Saturday, April 13, 2013

Margaret Thatcher Used Complex Tax Shelters to Protect Her Estate from Inheritance Taxes

The UK's Mirror reports:
Margaret Thatcher’s £6m London townhouse is owned by a mysterious company with links to THREE notorious tax havens.

Financial experts said it could have been a scheme which would help her estate avoid millions of pounds in inheritance tax.

But because her affairs are shrouded in such extraordinary secrecy it may be impossible to find out.

The trail leads to offshore businesses in the British Virgin Islands with links to Liechtenstein and Jersey.

The £6million property she lived in for more than 20 years is owned by Bakeland Property Company, based in the BVI.

The company’s official address is a PO Box in a small town in Liechtenstein and it had its original roots in St Helier, Jersey.

Any suggestion of avoiding a £2.4m inheritance tax bill will spark outrage following the row over who is paying for Thatcher’s lavish £10m funeral.

And John Christensen, of the Tax Justice Network, said: “How can a former prime minister spend more than two decades living in a house in London that has been owned for many years by a company based in the British Virgin Islands?

“This does not pass the smell test and simply cannot be allowed to happen in 21st Century Britain.

"We all have a duty to pay our taxes, and that includes former politicians.

"Politicians and in particular prime ministers have a duty to be transparent with their financial affairs.”

Records at the government’s Land Registry HQ in Croydon, South London showed that on March 29, 2006, Bakeland paid £2,395,807 for the house at Chester Square in Belgravia, London.

It is unclear who they purchased the house from because they were also named on the lease when the house was originally bought on October 30, 1991 for a reported £700,000 in 1991.

There are two leases on the property, which a Land Registry source described as “unusual”.

The first one was taken out on October 18, 1991, and lasts until December 25, 2030.

The second was taken out on July 29 and runs out in 2055.

The latest lease mysteriously stated: “The airspace above the building is excluded from the title.”

Bakeland Property Company Ltd trustees were originally listed as Jersey-based Hugh Thurston and Leonard Day, her friends and financial advisers.

In 2002 The Guardian reported that Bakeland’s shares were held by Mr Day and Mr Thurston.

Accountants said they were acting as nominees for a trust with concealed beneficiaries.

As Lady Thatcher did not own the house herself it is possible, depending on the terms of her will, that her children Mark and Carol could benefit.

If the property was listed in the name of their mother they would been subject to 40% tax on the entire value of the home – an estimated £2.4m.

Both Mark and Carol visited the house in Chester Square last night.

Tax campaigner Mr Christensen added: “There are huge financial benefits for an offshore company to own a property or leasehold particulaly in connection with stamp duty and inheritance tax.

“A company doesn’t die. If a person dies the property has to be passed on to someone else – obviously this is not the case with a company.

“This can be very beneficial indeed and can save a large amount of money in taxes which would be othewise due.”s which would be othewise due.”

Of course, when it came to the general public, Thatcher was all for higher taxes, as Murray Rothbard explained:
But instead of drastically lowering the amount of local taxation, Mrs. Thatcher imposed no such limits, and left the total expenditure and tax levels, as before, to the local councils. These local councils, Conservative as well as Labour, proceeded to raise their tax levels substantially, so that the average British citizen is being forced to pay approximately one-third more in local taxes. No wonder there are riots in the streets! The only puzzle is that the riots aren't more severe.[...] 
Unfortunately, the local tax case is characteristic of the Thatcher regime. Thatcherism is all too similar to Reaganism: free-market rhetoric masking statist content. While Thatcher has engaged in some privatization, the percentage of government spending and taxation to GNP has increased over the course of her regime, and monetary inflation has now led to price inflation. Basic discontent, then, has risen, and the increase in local tax levels has come as the vital last straw. It seems to me that a minimum criterion for a regime receiving the accolade of "pro-free-market" would require it to cut total spending, cut overall tax rates, and revenues, and put a stop to its own inflationary creation of money. Even by this surely modest yardstick, no British or American administration in decades has come close to qualifying.

1 comment:

  1. Britain's John Major worked for The Carlyle Group which has its own offshore entities. Can you play "Count the Caymans?"