One of us? – Owl
Rishi Sunak has published his long-awaited personal tax returns – revealing his mammoth income from a US-based investment fund outside of his salary at Westminster.
Adam Forrest www.independent.co.uk
The prime minister has raked in more than £4.7m over the past three years, the summary of his tax returns published for 2019-2020 to 2021-22 have revealed.
He made more than £1.9m last year alone – including £1.6m in capital gains and more than £300,000 in earnings and investment income.
And the PM paid more than £1m in UK tax over the three-year period, including £432,000 last year.
Mr Sunak’s financial affairs have come under intense scrutiny ever since The Independent first revealed his wife Akshata Murty held “non-dom” tax status to avoid UK tax on foreign income.
She later renounced the non-dom status. But it subsequently emerged that Mr Sunak had held a US green card and filed tax returns in America while he was chancellor.
Details of the couple’s fortune, believed to total around £730m, are also politically sensitive following warnings last week that Britons face a lost decade in living standards.
A statement from Mr Sunak’s accountants on Wednesday showed that his huge investment income and capital gains relate to a single US-based investment fund.
This is the investment listed as a “blind management arrangement” on the list of ministers’ interests. Mr Sunak is subject to UK tax on the investment income and gains received from the American fund.
Tax expert Dan Neidle said Mr Sunak had done nothing wrong – but noted how little capital gains are taxed compared with income, saying Mr Sunak paid only 20 per cent tax on the £1.6m made from it last year.
Mr Neidle – who probed ex-chancellor Nadhim Zahawi’s tax affairs – said “there is one interesting point: most of the £400,000 tax bill comes from the blind fund which doesn’t pay cash to him. So how does he pay the tax bill, given it’s so much more than he earns?”
Fellow tax expert Richard Murphy tweeted: “What do Sunak’s tax returns tell us? It is that a wealthy person with income beyond their immediate needs can always re-categorise large parts of that income as capital gains to reduce their tax rate on that part to 20 per cent, which is an insult to all who have to work for a living.”
The tax returns coincided with the highly anticipated grilling of Mr Sunak’s predecessor Boris Johnson by MPs over whether he misled the Commons with his denials about Partygate.
It was also on the same day as the Commons voted on Mr Sunak’s new post-Brexit deal. Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner tweeted: “Wonder why he’s chosen today?”
The ministerial code requires all ministers, including the prime minister, to provide information about their tax affairs for review by the Cabinet Office and the independent adviser on ministerial interests.
However, they are not required to make this public. Mr Sunak had promised that he would become the first prime minister since 2016 to publish his tax returns in full this year.
David Cameron did publish his returns after coming under immense pressure, as did Boris Johnson while London mayor. George Osborne did the same as chancellor.
Theresa May did publish four years’ worth of returns during her campaign for the Tory leadership.
Mr Sunak initially made the pledge last summer during his unsuccessful Conservative leadership campaign against Liz Truss.
He repeatedly promised to do so in recent months, and faced continued pressure to release the documents when it emerged Mr Zahawi settled an estimated £4.7m bill with HMRC while he was chancellor.
The Independent first revealed in July that HMRC officials were examining the tax affairs of the senior Tory figure after an inquiry was launched by the National Crime Agency in 2020.