Tony and Cherie Blair avoided paying £312,000 in stamp duty when they bought a £6.45million London office, explosive documents revealed last night.
The disclosure is contained in a leak of offshore papers which exposes hidden wealth and tax avoidance by some of the world’s richest and most powerful people.
The ex-Labour prime minister and his barrister wife did not have to pay the tax bill because they bought the offshore firm that owned the property.
Mrs Blair, who runs a law firm and a women’s foundation from the four-storey Victorian building, said the sellers had insisted the office be sold in this way.
There is nothing illegal about the transaction, but the deal highlights a loophole that helps wealthy property owners avoid paying a tax that most UK home buyers cannot escape.
The transaction is revealed in a cache of 11.9million files dubbed the Pandora papers, which shine a light on the secret financial affairs of 35 world leaders.
The Pandora Papers were leaked to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists in Washington, which shared the documents with global media outlets including the BBC and The Guardian.
The ex-Labour prime minister Tony Blair and his barrister wife Cherie (pictured together) did not have to pay the tax bill because they bought the offshore firm that owned the property
The leaked documents show the Blairs bought the building (pictured) by setting up a UK company to acquire Romanstone
The documents show that Tony and Cherie Blair bought their office in Marylebone, central London, from a British Virgin Islands-based company called Romanstone International Limited.
The leaked documents show the Blairs bought the building by setting up a UK company to acquire Romanstone.
Mr and Mrs Blair, pictured, each held a 50 per cent stake in the British company. They closed the offshore company after the purchase.
The stamp duty payment of £312,000 was avoided because the company which owned the building switched hands, rather than the actual ownership of the property.
No laws were broken in buying the office but Mr Blair had previously been critical of tax loopholes, once saying that ‘the tax system is a haven of scams, perks, City deals and profits’.
Mrs Blair stressed that their firm, Harcourt Ventures, had been formed to bring Romanstone and its building under UK tax and regulatory rules.
She said: ‘It is not unusual for a commercial office building to be held in a corporate vehicle or for vendors of such property not to want to dispose of the property separately.’
The Blairs, who spent more than £30million on 38 residential properties before buying the office, said ‘the acquisition of a company comes with different tax consequences’ and they ‘will of course be liable for capital gains tax on resale’.
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