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CHARLES JOINS TAXPAYER RANKS, BUT HIS INCOME BARELY AFFECTED

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Prince Charles joined the ranks of British taxpayers last year, but accounts published Friday show his $6 million income was barely affected.

The private estates with which the heir to Britain's throne supports himself and his estranged wife Diana made a pre-tax profit of $6.2 million in the year to December 1993, almost 20 percent more than the previous year.Royal officials declined to specify how much would go to the taxman but said the prince expected to relinquish around the same proportion of his income as under the previous system when he voluntarily surrendered a quarter of his earnings.

This would leave the couple with approximately $4.5 million to support their separate courts, amply covering Diana's reported $245,000 a year bills for beauty treatments and designer clothing.

The prince and his mother Queen Elizabeth offered to pay income tax late in 1992, when the monarchy's popularity was buffeted by marital upsets and growing resentment of royal riches among recession-weary subjects.

Until then, the queen's undisclosed private income was wholly tax-free and her heir was under no obligation to pay anything to the exchequer.

High earners like Charles are subject to 40 percent tax on the bulk of their income but the prince, ends up paying rather less after exemptions for work-related expenses, his aides told reporters.

The Duchy of Cornwall, comprising property and land in southwest England, was set up in the 14th century to provide an independent income for the eldest son of the monarch.