Prince Charles’ farm finances come under scrutiny

Prince Charles’ management of his Duchy of Cornwall estate has come under intense scrutiny by a committee of MPs who investigated his accounts.

The BBC reports that the 56,655ha (140,000 acre) estate, held in trust for heir’s to the throne, provides the prince with his main source of income.

In 2004 the estate generated an income of £13.3m, as the estate is not registered as an organisation the prince avoids paying corporation tax, but instead pays income tax at 40% on all profits after business expenses.

The prince also avoids paying capital gains tax as he receives no capital gains from the estate despite improving its capital worth by 80% in the last six years.

But the MPs on the Parliamentary Accounts Committee claim that his direct involvement of the estate, which includes determining how much profit it makes each year, presents a possible conflict of interests with those of future beneficiaries.

But a spokesman for Clarence House denied any mismanagement on the prince’s behalf saying “special safeguards” ensured one generation did not “sell the family silver”.

The PAC also recommended that the National Audit Office be given an opportunity to look through the accounts, but the Clarence House spokesman said there was no reason why they should be as the Duchy is a private estate, not a public body.

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