Margaret Hodge’s Multi-Million Pound Stemcor Trusts

Margaret Hodge didn’t take too kindly to being accused of tax hypocrisy by Priti Patel yesterday. The litigious Labour MP and ardent anti-tax avoidance campaigner insists she has done nothing wrong with her shareholding arrangements at 0.01% tax rate paying Stemcor. She has succeeded in scaring off the dead tree press from reporting her arrangements. Guido has been crunching the numbers and it seems Priti is on to something…

Hodge claimed in a grilling by Michael Crick earlier this month that “I am a tiny, tiny, tiny shareholder”. Her direct shareholding is 1.26% which, given that Stemcor paid out £4,519,000 in dividends last year, means she received some £56,939. That shareholding alone is worth £1.8 million. Hardly a tiny amount.

What’s more Stemcor confirmed yesterday that this figure “excludes shares held in trust or in her children’s names”. The company share register shows that Hodge holds several million pounds worth of shareholdings in trusts, including for members of her family. As Polly Toynbee helpfully explains, this is a clever way of minimising future inheritance tax liability:

“The big sell is trusts, special ones devised for this company’s clients, guaranteed to protect almost all your wealth from inheritance tax. They are right, it can be done easily. Put all moveables and all cash and investments into a discretionary trust, and it passes to your heirs without tax as soon as you die, not even waiting for probate. It counts as a gift so the beneficiaries need pay no tax either.”

Yesterday Guido challenged Hodge to explain the purpose of placing her Stemcor shareholdings in a trust other than to reduce the future inheritance tax liability of her relatives. She has yet to reply…



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