Did Jeremy Hunt avoid tax on his £15m payout from the sale of Hotcourses?

No.

This is the next in my series of posts on the Tory leadership candidates.

Jeremy Hunt made a sweet £15m from the sale of Hotcourses, the company he founded. There were a number of ways he could have avoided tax on the sale:

  • Hold Hotcourses through an offshore company (saving stamp duty1Stamp duty is paid by the purchaser, but they typically knock it off the purchase price. Yes, it’s only 0.5%, but people still routinely avoid it and, more importantly, capital gains with a bit of extra “planning”).
  • Move abroad before selling the shares.
  • Hold through a UK company and at least try to defer the capital gain.
  • Make some dubious claim to be a non-dom, and hold the Hotcourses shares offshore.
  • Use some dodgy tax avoidance scheme to try and magic the gain away (in 2017 this was about as plausible as a chocolate teapot, but that doesn’t always stop people trying).
  • Get some non-dom relatives to establish an offshore trust, have the trust establish a company in Gibraltar, and have that company hold the Hotcourses shares. Then the Gibraltan company makes a tax free profit. Hard to believe anyone would do something so transparent.

There’s no sign Hunt did any of this. The Companies House documents show that he held the shares himself and sold them himself. He probably paid around £2m in tax. Good for him.

  • 1
    Stamp duty is paid by the purchaser, but they typically knock it off the purchase price. Yes, it’s only 0.5%, but people still routinely avoid it
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