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OPINION; Atlantic Chambers' Nigel Ginniff discusses the tax issues of MPs' expenses.

DESPITE the immense public outrage, the MPs that have been exposed as claiming relief from Capital Gains Tax (CGT) have no legal obligation to pay back this tax.

More importantly, those who have now offered to do so in respect of sales made more than two years ago will be unable to, as their payment will not be accepted by the taxman.

It may be politically or morally questionable to claim relief from CGT on a nominated property while claiming allowances on another property as their main residence, but it is not questionable legally.

It is also only immoral if you believe arranging your affairs to minimise your tax liability is immoral.

Everyone who has more than one residence may nominate one of those properties as their main residence for CGT relief.

Tax avoidance is very different to tax evasion.

Anybody in that situation who sought tax advice would be told that they would be unwise not to take advantage of that situation to minimise how much tax they actually pay.

Also, offers to pay back this money are unnecessary, as legally they have nothing to pay back.

I have never heard of anybody trying to pay tax that they have already legally avoided paying - tax that isn't owed.

HMRC will not be able to legally accept it..

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Nigel Ginniff
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jun 16, 2009
Words:222
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