THE body that has picked over the tax affairs of Google and Starbucks is to turn its attention to the Prince of Wales’s private estate which last year provided the heir to the throne with a record income.
Prince Charles’s income from the Duchy of Cornwall, a portfolio of land, property and investments, rose four per cent to £19 million in the last financial year.
His tax bill also fell slightly by £70,000 to £4.426 million, a drop of 1.5 per cent.
Funding from the taxpayer almost halved, from £2.1 million to £1.1 million, in large part due to a reduction in travel costs as the overseas realms – countries where the Queen is head of state – footed the bill when he visited the nations.
Spending on official travel paid for through the sovereign grant - the new funding system which has replaced the civil list - and grants-in-aid fell during 2012/13 from £1.3 million to £644,000.
Officials from the Duchy of Cornwall are now set to appear before the Public Accounts Committee which is better known for reporting on how the Government spends money.
It has recently been at the centre of the debate over corporate tax avoidance after its inquiry into the UK authorities’ failure to secure more money from Google led to criticism of both the internet giant and the taxman.
William Nye, Charles’s principal private secretary, said: “Naturally we’re happy to appear before the Public Accounts Committee, if they would like to see us.”
He added: “The Duchy estate provides an income for the heir to the throne, there are some special rules that apply to it.
“The Prince of Wales gets the income from the Duchy but he doesn’t have access to the capital, that’s always been the case.”
Mr Nye went on to say that Charles funds most of the official costs of himself and his immediate family – the Duchess of Cornwall, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry – and although exempt from income tax pays it voluntarily on his Duchy income.
Asked to comment on suggestions that the Duchy should pay corporation tax, he replied: “It’s not a corporation so it doesn’t pay corporation tax, it’s owned by the Duke of Cornwall and he gets the income and then he pays income tax, like anybody else who owns some property from which they gain an income.”
He added: “The whole point about the Duchy is that it is set up specifically, and indeed required by law, to maintain its capital, to roll over and maintain its capital and to invest in the future to generate income for the future.”
Official funding for William, Kate and Harry was listed under the heading of other expenditure, which also included additional elements like capital expenditure.
Other expenditure stood at £2 million and Mr Nye said a “significant element” of this related to the three royals.
He did not give an exact figure but said William, Kate and Harry’s staff costs would be covered by the total.
My Nye was asked to comment on the suggestion that in the future Charles would have to fund the growing official workload of his sons and Kate.
He said he did not think it would have an effect on financial arrangements but added: “The Prince of Wales will have to look carefully at how the official costs of himself and the Duchess and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry might evolve.”
The number of full-time posts at Charles’s household, Clarence House, and the Cambridges’ and Prince Harry’s household, now called Kensington Palace, was up marginally by 1 to 135.9, with the younger royals having 10.5 full time posts.
The Duchy of Cornwall’s accounts were published a day after the latest Royal finances showed that the monarchy cost the taxpayer more than £33 million during the Diamond Jubilee year - a rise of just under a million.
It emerged Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall’s official visit to Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Oman in March cost £300,000, when the reconnaissance trip by members of their household was included.
A spokesman for the Public Accounts Committee said Duchy of Cornwall officials, would appear before MPs on July 15.