Osborne provokes critics with '£1,200 dividend'

Critics of George Osborne and his April dividend tax appear to have been handed fresh ammunition at the weekend, and from an unlikely source – the chancellor himself.

Despite being effectively told that his dividend tax makes it clear he has ‘never actually run a business,’ Mr Osborne has reportedly pocketed a £1,200 dividend from his family’s business.

In fact, thanks to his 6,833 shares (less than 1% of the total) in Osborne & Little Group, the chancellor received a dividend of 18p a share for the first time last year, returning him £1,230, reports The Sunday Times.

Better still for critics of the Tatton MP, the Osborne & Little Group has not paid a penny of corporation tax in seven years, adds the newspaper’s analysis of the group’s financial records.

The non-payment was said to be “partly” because the group rolled over losses from previous years and deferred tax payments, but it may prove awkward for the chancellor’s tax rhetoric. At Budget 2012 for example, he said he regarded avoidance as “morally repugnant.”    

Shown the Sunday paper’s analysis however, a spokesman for Mr Osborne told the broadsheet: “All of the Chancellor’s interests are declared properly and in accordance with all the rules.”

The reassurance is unlikely to placate one-time TV entrepreneur Neil Westwood, who has said Mr Osborne “wouldn’t do this [introduce the dividend tax]” if he had personally run his own small company.

Nevertheless, the value of Mr Osborne’s reported windfall would put him firmly inside the incoming dividend allowance, under which the first £5,000 of dividend income is tax-free.  

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