Ashcroft tax row resurfaces

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The Conservative Party donor Lord Ashcroft has reopened the controversy surrounding his tax affairs by questioning whether the Government expects UK citizens to maximise the amount they pay to the Treasury.

The peer, who stood down as the Tory deputy chairman last month, admitted in March that he was a "non-dom". His status has since changed following a new law that forces members of the Commons and Lords to be resident in the UK for tax purposes.

In a written question, Lord Ashcroft asked whether the Government "expects citizens to organise their tax affairs to maximise tax payable". The Treasury minister Lord Sassoon replied: "The Government expects citizens to pay tax due by law. It will take action against tax avoidance schemes that claim to produce results completely at odds with the intentions of Parliament.

"That is why the Government supports the Code of Conduct on Taxation for banks and is asking them to adopt it by the end of November 2010." When Lord Ashcroft admitted that he was a non-dom there was an outcry from Labour and the Liberal Democrats who accused him of failing to honour pledges given when he was made a peer a decade earlier.