The Duchy of Cornwall is the estate and landholding held by Prince Charles. As the eldest son of a reigning British monarch Charles succeed the Duchy and the associated title “The Duke of Cornwall” upon his mother’s accession to the throne. The Duchy is one of two royal duchies in England the other being the Duchy of Lancaster which provides a private income to the Sovereign.
The Duchy is large in both land coverage and revenue. It is understood that the duchy is worth over £750 million pounds and that the duchy owns over 210 square miles of land in Devon, Cornwall, Herefordshire, Somerset and Wales. The Duchy is much more than a simple property investment portfolio for the duchy grants the incumbent Duke certain limited legal rights and privileges across Cornwall that would usually belong to the Crown. With a current land holding of more than 130,000 acres, the considerable income of the duchy has been the primary income source of His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales.
Throughout history duchies have been free from taxation, however with the substantial profits generated each year the Prince of Wales has agreed to pay tax to the government. Taxation never runs completely smoothly. On the 15th July 2013 a representative of the Prince of Wales will be called before the Commons public accounts committee to answer questions about the Duchy of Cornwall’s current tax arrangements.
The Prince of Wales has an average income of £20 million pounds and the vast majority of this sum is generated by the Duchy. The estate does not pay corporation tax upon profit like similar style business models as the Prince has chosen to pay income tax on the income generated by the Duchy at a rate of 50%. In 2012 this meant that His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales paid Her Majesty’s Treasury £4.4 million pounds.
Margaret Hodge is the Chairman of the Committee which will hear evidence on Monday 15th July 2013. The question of taxation has come up due to the fact that some believe that the duchy should pay corporation tax especially in light of the current economic climate.
The last time that a representative was called to a Common’s Committee was in 2006 but since then taxation has become a far more controversial issue due to the likes of major international companies not paying the Treasury corporation tax. Currently the Duchy does not pay corporation tax for the simple reason it is not a corporation. This is the official line that will be stated during the committee meeting.
Royal finances are always subject to controversy and speculation however the British Monarchy has always been transparent with their finances and the Queen pays tax like her subjects. The Duchy of Cornwall does much good work for charity and ensures the protection of our nation’s heritage by keeping thousands of skilled workers employed.