Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

Tony Blair’s Mystery tax bill

The Daily Mail reports that former Prime Minister Tony Blair's earnings have soared by 42% to £12 million. Despite this the tax bill was only £315,000.

Wouldn't we all like a situation like that?

Many of his financial dealings are hard to pin down due to the use of partnerships (Limited Partnerships and Limited Liability Partnerships) and business structures which do not have to publish full accounts of their income and expenses. This level of complexity, something he criticised when in power, is not necessary to organise the activities of one man, no matter what his spokesperson says.

Despite the complexity, figures are available for Windrush Ventures Ltd. Its only share is owned by Bircham and Co Nominees Ltd. Thankfully company law requires the accounts to show who is really in control. The accounts state "The ultimate controlling party... is ACL Blair."

Or Tony to his friends.

Anyone can access these accounts, and I have details of how you can do so at the end of this article.

Having analysed them I can share with you some of the interesting bits.

Key points of Tony's company accounts for Windrush Ventures Ltd are:

  • Turnover was £12 million
  • Salaries, including to the directors, totalled £2.3 million
  • Premises rent etc totalled £637,000
  • The accountants made £44,000.
  • No dividend was paid.
  • The corporation tax due was just £315,000
  • This leaves over £8 million in expenses, with no explanation.
  • Three directors served in the year to 31 March 2011 - Catherine Jane Rimmer - British(DOB 21/3/67), Jason Samuel Searancke - a New Zealander (DOB 28/4/68) and Joanne Alice Gibbons (Jo Gibbons) - UK resident (DOB 25/12/63 - who resigned on 7 October 2010.)
  • The highest paid director received in total £200,000 in the year.
  • In total the directors earned £481,000. One director received £70,000 compensation for loss of office.

It is not clear whether these accounts include the fees Tony Blair receives as an adviser to JP Morgan - the American bank, or his fees from Zurich International.

The big question here is how did this company spend over £8 million in 'expenses'? Most of them were tax-deductible as the small tax bill proves. Of course there will be travel and accommodation costs, and normal office costs, but a million pounds would go a long way in handling all that.

In response to the Daily Mail a spokesman for Tony Blair said "

'Tony Blair continues to be a UK taxpayer on all of his income worldwide. There are more than 120 people working on all his activities around the world. His companies are all UK registered for tax purposes, and the corporate structure has nothing to do with tax arrangements, but is simply to effectively administer his activities.

‘These figures are not his earnings from Windrush but are the costs of all that Tony Blair does through Windrush. The Windrush accounts are prepared in accordance with the relevant legal, accounting and regulatory guidance.’

As a tax consultant with hundreds of British clients abroad, I have a theory. One perhaps an investigative journalist or blogger might like to pursue.

Is Tony Blair actually non-resident for tax purposes. If he is resident for tax purposes then why doesn't his spokesperson just say so.

In my scenario, so long as he is deemed to be working full-time abroad, and his overseas activities could support that line, then this option may be available to him. To keep this special tax status he will only be allowed to be in the UK overnight on 90 days per year. That restriction is probably not a problem given the time he spends in the Middle East.

Maybe some of this explains why he isn't Lord Blair, yet. Peers (Lords) must be "resident in the UK for tax purposes and accept the requirement to remain so".

Perhaps someone could ask Tony directly:

1. "Are you resident in the UK for tax purposes?"

2. "Have you been resident in the UK for tax purposes from the date you left office as PM until now?"

The company number for Windrush Ventures Ltd is 6397276 and anyone can view the accounts by going to the Companies House site here.

Adrian Huston, a former tax inspector, is a director of Belfast tax and accountancy firm Huston & Co – www.huston.co.uk or 028 9080 6080.

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