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Opinion poll gives UK Labour Party one percentage point lead over Conservatives

An opinion poll has put support for the Labour Party at one point ahead of the ruling Conservatives. Election debate has centered on tax benefits for UK residents with foreign passports and wealth held worldwide.

The poll of 1,672 adults in Britain was carried out by international, internet-based market research firm YouGov for News International's The Sun daily newspaper.

The poll put Labour on 35 percent, unchanged from the day before and the Conservatives on 34 percent, up one percentage point, The Sun said.

The anti-European UK Independence Party was on 13 percent, down one point, with the Liberal Democrats unchanged on 8 percent.

The pro-environmental party the Greens were unchanged on 5 percent.

Of those polled, 69 percent said they were "absolutely certain to vote" in the election on May 7.

Asked if they thought "Britain would be better or worse off economically" if it left the European Union, 43 percent said "Worse off" and only 25 percent said "Better off." Asked if Britain would have "more or less influence in the world" if it left the EU, 44 percent said it "Would have less influence" and 12 percent said it would have "more influence" while 32 percent said it would make "no difference."

Tax benefits

The election debate on Wednesday centered on a centuries-old tax arrangement for rich individuals with foreign passports living in Britain, referred to as "non-doms."

On Wednesday, Labour Party leader Ed Miliband promised to abolish the non-dom rule. Labour said the rule has been open to abuse and offended the moral basis of taxation. He argued that everyone who has made the UK their permanent home should pay full UK tax on all their worldwide income and gains.

Dating to 1799, when income tax was first levied in Britain, the non-dom tax exemption meant residents were only taxed on money brought into the country. The profits from Jamaica sugar cane plantations or Virginia tobacco estates for example were not taxed with British duties. In 1914, income tax was introduced for overseas earnings as well but an exception was made for people resident, but not domiciled, in the UK.

There were 113,800 self-declared non-doms in the UK in 2012-13.

There was confusion on Wednesday on whether or not Labour was intending to completely abolish non-dom status, which was seized on by the Conservative Party's George Osborne: "The small print of Labour's policy makes clear that they are not actually abolishing non-dom status. Either they are going to abolish non-dom status altogether, which would cost our country hundreds of millions of pounds in lost tax revenues and lost investment; the reason they did nothing on this during 13 years in office. Or they are just tinkering around the edges and making small adjustments to the rules on how long people can be non-dom."

Leader of the current coalition partner Liberal Democrat Party, Nick Clegg, defended the rule as he said it allowed people to come to Britain, not all of whom were "massively rich" he said, without having to pay tax on income outside the UK.

jm/rc (Reuters, dpa)

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