The real Mitchell tax scandal is DFID’s failure to stand up to Osborne

The real Andrew Mitchell tax scandal is his department’s failure to stand up to George Osborne over his watering down of tax haven legislation.

E-mail-sign-up Donate



Just a week after George Osborne’s attack on “morally repugnant” tax dodgers in the budget, today’s Times reports (£) his Cabinet colleague Andrew Mitchell avoided £2.6 million in stamp duty.

George-Osborne-Andrew-MitchellIt says:

The international development secretary, put money into a network of privately owned companies that are at the centre of a landmark tax avoidance case.

The transaction, while legal, is described by Revenue & Customs as “aggressive tax avoidance”. It was challenged even before the Government began to curb stamp duty avoidance…

Mr Mitchell was a shareholder in DV3 Ltd when, in 2006, it used a loophole to avoid paying £2.6 million in stamp duty on the purchase of the Dickins & Jones department store building in Central London…

The lease of the 150-year-old Dickins & Jones store was bought in October 2006 for £65.1 million by a subsidiary of DV3 Ltd. A month later, the subsidiary sold the lease to a parternship, also controlled by DV3, for £65,100.

The company maintained stamp duty was calculated on the lesser amount, reducing the rate from 4 per cent to nothing.

Distasteful, objectionable, even offensive, some might call it – but there’s no mention in the article, or elsewhere in the paper, of the bigger Mitchell tax scandal, namely his failure to stand up to the chancellor over the changing of the rules regarding tax havens, which will benefit multinationals and hit developing countries.

Osborne actually watered down the UK’s anti-tax haven rules in the budget. The OECD estimates poor countries lose three times more to tax havens than they receive in aid each year, with the Treasury’s own estimates suggesting the UK will lose £1 billion a year as a result of the budget.

Anti-poverty groups like ActionAid have been warning the government for some time that changing these rules are likely to cost poor countries £4 billion a year, as UK multinationals operating in the developing world are able to shift more of the profits they make there into tax havens.


See also:

Budget 2012: Does George Osborne think James Caan, Lord Ashcroft and Sir Philip Green are “morally repugnant”? 22 Mar 2012

The Treasury dodges the question on its new tax loophole for multinationals 7 Mar 2012

The Osborne tax get-out turns aid for the poorest into a subsidy for multinationals 6 Mar 2012

Mail and Telegraph pull anti-tax-dodging ads 4 Jan 2011

Osborne, Mitchell and Hammond accused of tax avoidance 18 Oct 2010


The latest accusations are particularly embarrassing for Mitchell, given the impact of tax havens on the developing countries his own department supports, and with the international development select committee currently investigating DFID’s approach to tax and development, he will have some tricky questions to answer.


Sign-up to our weekly email • Donate to Left Foot Forward

As you’re here, we have something to ask you. What we do here to deliver real news is more important than ever. But there’s a problem: we need readers like you to chip in to help us survive. We deliver progressive, independent media, that challenges the right’s hateful rhetoric. Together we can find the stories that get lost.

We’re not bankrolled by billionaire donors, but rely on readers chipping in whatever they can afford to protect our independence. What we do isn’t free, and we run on a shoestring. Can you help by chipping in as little as £1 a week to help us survive? Whatever you can donate, we’re so grateful - and we will ensure your money goes as far as possible to deliver hard-hitting news.

One Response to “The real Mitchell tax scandal is DFID’s failure to stand up to Osborne”

  1. Shamik Das

    The real Mitchell tax scandal is DFID’s failure to stand up to Osborne: by @ShamikDas #TaxDodging

Comments are closed.