Farage backs donor on tax avoidance

Published: Thursday 19th February 2015 by The News Editor

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Ukip leader Nigel Farage has given his backing to a millionaire party donor who said the ordinary man on the street will do “whatever he can” to pay less tax.

Stuart Wheeler, who has given almost £100,000 to help fund Ukip’s general election campaign, said “not all tax avoidance is bad”, highlighting the use of Isas as an example of government-backed schemes to help people reduce their liabilities.

His comments followed a bitter political row between Labour and the Tories over the tax affairs of party donors.

Speaking on a visit to a market in Sandwich, Kent, Mr Farage said he supported Mr Wheeler’s comments.

“There is nobody in this market today who voluntarily pays more tax than they should – nobody,” he said.

“There’s not one person here who says ‘I tell you what, here’s an extra cheque every year’ to the Exchequer. I actually thought the sentiments of what Stuart said were right, that there are some legal tax avoidance schemes that are morally highly questionable.

“But people like Mr Wheeler himself saying that he will do what he can do to help his daughters avoid paying inheritance tax – that is what people do.

“So this argument that Ed Miliband has kicked off has actually rather backfired on him.” Mr Wheeler, who made his fortune after his firm pioneered spread-betting, is a former Ukip treasurer and said he had contributed almost £100,000 to help fight May’s election.

Asked if he agreed with Tory donor Lord Fink that “everyone does” tax avoidance at some level, Mr Wheeler said: “I think if it’s very, very complicated and terribly artificial then one can object to it, but the ordinary man in the street will do whatever he can to pay less tax, who wouldn’t?”

The 80-year-old told Channel 4 News he had not done “anything much to avoid tax” himself, although he planned to give money to his children to reduce the inheritance tax liability when he dies.

“I haven’t really done anything much to avoid tax,” he said. “I have got three children and I am intending to give them some money very shortly so that they won’t have to – if I survive seven years, which is doubtful – they won’t have to pay inheritance tax on that money that I give them.

“So that’s a way of avoiding tax if you like. I think an awful lot of people do it and I think it’s quite okay.”

Published: Thursday 19th February 2015 by The News Editor

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