‘Hypocrite’ jibe at Jeremy Corbyn over councils avoiding tax

Posted on Nov 9 2017 - 11:35am by admin

The Labour leader was told to put his own house in order first after he attacked rich individuals and corporations identified in the so-called Paradise Papers.

He had claimed the 13 million leaked documents demonstrated there was “one rule for the super rich and another for the rest when it comes to paying tax”.

He even suggested the Queen, whose private estate invested £10million offshore, should apologise and “recognise what it does to our society”.

But Warrington and Sefton councils were revealed yesterday to have avoided more than £12million in stamp duty by putting cash into tax haven firms.

Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable said: “The Labour leadership has spoken loudly about stamping out tax avoidance.

“Yet Labour-run authorities have avoided stamp duty through complicated tax structures when speculating in commercial property.

“The stance appears somewhat hypocritical until they have their own house in order.”

Sefton on Merseyside bought a shopping centre in Bootle through a Luxembourg-registered company for £32.5million.

The council saved £1.6million and even took out insurance against the taxman pursuing the lost revenue.

Sefton Lib Dem councillor John Pugh said: “For a Labour council to do so in considerable secrecy looks utterly hypocritical.”

Warrington in Cheshire saved more than £10million by buying a £200million business park in the county via an offshore company. Helen Jones, the Labour MP for Warrington North, called the council’s offshore activities “morally questionable and contrary to Labour policy”.

The new revelations came after the Queen and Prince Charles were dragged into the row because their estates – the Duchies of Lancaster and Cornwall – were named in the papers.

Wealthy individuals identified as offshore investors include F1 champ Lewis Hamilton, U2 singer Bono and three stars of BBC sitcom Mrs Brown’s Boys.

A Sefton Council spokesman said: “We paid all the tax due. The council bought the company that owned the asset as this was the corporate structure that was marketed for sale.

“We acquired the shopping centre primarily to deliver a new revenue stream to help pay for vital services that have been reduced as a result of Government cuts.”

Warrington Council said: “The only tax not being paid is a one-off payment of stamp duty land tax. This position was discussed in detail and followed extensive advice. To complete the acquisition in a timely manner the council agreed to leave the business offshore as trying to complete the deal and bring it onshore would have delayed the purchase.”

A Labour spokesman said: “We’re committed to changing the current tax environment and to tackling tax avoidance.”

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