LAND including Bouverie Place Shopping Centre the Saga Buildings and the former site of Silver Spring are owned by companies based in offshore tax havens it can be revealed.
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Many other properties such as 66 Tontine Street, 57-59 Sandgate Road and 84 Sandgate Road and many others across Shepway are owned by Companies based in the British Virgin Islands and other tax havens.
Companies are often based offshore to gain from three tax loopholes, including no capital gains tax, no inheritance tax and no stamp duty.
The government allows property buyers to hide their identities on the official land registry, with more and more properties being listed as owned by anonymous offshore companies.
Since 1999, 94,670 offshore entities have been set up purely to hold UK property
Purchasers pay fees of between £800 and £1000 to offshoring agencies to ensure that their names are not made public.
Bouverie Place owners CCP III SHOPPING FOLKESTONE S.A.R.L. who are based in Luxembourg while the Saga Buildings are owned by Acromas Insurance Company Ltd who are registered in Gibraltar and the former Silver Spring site is owned by RAINSTORM HOLDING S.A R.L. based in Luxembourg.
Other land in Folkestone and Shepway is owned by companies based in Jersey, The Isle of Man, Luxembourg, the British Virgin Islands, France, Ireland and Guernsey.
A former accountant said: “Three major tax loopholes are currently fuelling the secretive offshore property boom.
“Offshore entities, provided they are genuinely controlled and managed outside the UK, do not pay any tax on the proceeds of property speculation, unlike resident Britons.
“People living abroad and non-doms who say they are only living in Britain temporarily can legally avoid inheritance tax by buying a property in the name of an offshore entity.
“It is then considered to be a tax-free holding in a foreign company, not a British asset.
“Anyone, British or foreign, can legally avoid up to five per cent stamp duty being imposed on the next purchaser by holding their property in an offshore company – upon sale the company shares are transferred, not the property.
“The company has to be managed offshore, which also saves 0.5 per cent duty on UK share transfers.
“These artificial techniques were partly outlawed by George Osborne in this year’s budget, but only for UK property worth more than £2m.