One Hyde Park, the world's most expensive apartment building, is a notorious den of tax avoidance. The building is located in London's Knightsbridge, between the Serpentine and Harvey Nichols, and has 62 apartments, each worth millions of pounds. Only nine of the 62 owners pays their full council tax, and most of the apartments were sold without any stamp duty (a tax on home purchases) being collected through a dodge whereby each apartment was owned by a company over which the buyers assumed control, so that the apartment itself never changed hands.
Karen Buck, the Labour MP for Westminster north, said she expected the council to act quickly to recoup the tax from One Hyde Park's residents. She voiced concern that the super-rich in London were not paying their way, saying: "When council spending is under unprecedented pressure, it is scandalous that residents in luxury apartments can avoid their share of council tax liability. It sometimes seems as if the more money you have the less you are required to pay."
A council may apply to a magistrate for a warrant to imprison a council tax debtor if they are refusing to pay but have the means.
The revelation follows claims by Liberal Democrats that up to £750m is lost every year to the exchequer when house purchases are hidden behind off-shore companies.