City Hall has come under fire for agreeing to underwrite half of the stamp duty that could be levied on the BBC when it opens new studios in the £1.1bn Olympic Park development.
Last summer the broadcaster announced it would build a brand new set of studios at the east London site by 2022/23, in concert with the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC), a body that is accountable to the mayor of London and is tasked with developing the new business and residential hub of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
However, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has not yet decided whether it will impose stamp duty on the new studios. In order to secure the BBC's move to the area, London mayor Sadiq Khan granted the LLDC permission to underwrite a "a maximum of 50 per cent" of the BBC's stamp duty, "should it become due".
The stamp duty agreement comes on top of an £11m grant the Greater London Authority will supply to the LLDC towards the capital costs of the BBC building.
John O'Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said the agreement signified "one rule for them and another for the rest of us".
"If ordinary taxpayers and businesses across the country are paying huge amounts of stamp duty, then why can't the BBC suffer from it like the rest of us? Any money Sadiq gives to the BBC is taxpayers money, which could be going towards local police budgets instead."
Chair of the London Assembly's transport committee Caroline Pidgeon said: “We should be able to attract firms and organisations from around the world to locate to this wonderful location, without huge taxpayer subsidies being necessary. To be offering such huge subsidies to the publicly funded BBC shows that the Olympic Park is not reaching its full potential.”
However, leader of the Conservatives in the London Assembly Gareth Bacon defended the decision.
"I think the BBC gets enough taxpayers money and take a dim view of them getting any more," he said. "However, the presence of the BBC is critical to the regeneration of a major phase of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The government have effectively demanded it and their funding offer is contingent on it, so without securing the BBC the whole project could be at risk. In that light, the offset to underwrite half of the cost becomes more defensible."
A spokesperson for the mayor said: “East Bank is the most ambitious project of its kind for decades, placing culture and education at the heart of the Olympic legacy. It will create 2,500 jobs, deliver £1.5bn of economic benefit and 600 new homes.
“Professional tax advisors have advised the mayor that stamp duty will not be payable on this building. A fair arrangement has been negotiated with the BBC, in case this proves not to be the case, so that this scheme can progress on schedule.”
A BBC spokesperson said: "We have nothing further to add."
HMRC said it did not comment on identifiable taxpayers.