… The Chancellor of the Exchequer (their equivalent of the Secretary of the Treasury in the US) Rishi Sunak has come under fire because it was revealed that his wife Akshata Murty, an Indian citizen and the daughter of an Indian billionaire, has used the non-domiciled status provision in the UK tax laws to avoid paying UK taxes on her large global income. While this is legal, it does not look good for Sunak, the person who has raised taxes on British citizens, to have his extremely wealthy wife take advantage of these provisions.
Taxes are rising for millions of Britons this month, but in the Sunak household, well, maybe not so much. For Murty has been revealed as a non-dom: she pays British taxes on any earnings in this country but not on any income overseas, a perfectly legal choice but one that could conceivably have saved the Sunak household a tidy sum. And, to be clear, it is a choice, much as her husband’s decision not to uprate benefits this month in line with unexpectedly soaring inflation was a choice.
Murty retains Indian citizenship. That’s something she has every right to do, just as Nick Clegg’s wife, Miriam, had every right to remain a proud Spanish citizen when he was in government. But tax experts argue that the chancellor’s wife could have opted to pay tax in the country where her husband sets it. That she didn’t is, arguably, not surprising: in the circles in which she moves, it might seem crazy to risk the family inheritance just to spare a husband’s political blushes. What really is astonishing, however, is that the chancellor seemingly imagined he could keep all this private, even while hiking taxes on people with nowhere to run from them.
There are few more damaging charges in politics than “one rule for them, another for the rest of us”, as Boris Johnson so helpfully demonstrated by presiding over a regime that repeatedly broke its own Covid rules. Yet his supposed heir apparent has just walked straight into the same elephant trap.
In addition, it was revealed that Sunak himself was, while still the Chancellor, the possessor of a US ‘green card’ that is meant to indicate that the US is your true residence and that you will eventually become a US citizen. These issues have raised other questions about his wealth. These revelations seem to have put a serious dent in his ambitions to replace Boris Johnson as prime minister. Aditya Chakrabortty excoriates Sunak’s record.
Jonathan Pie weighs in on the issue. He says that the calls to investigate who leaked the damaging information about Sunak is laughable because he thinks it is obvious that it must be Boris Johnson. Such a leak serves two purposes for Johnson. It damages his main rival to the leadership and it takes the spotlight away from Johnson over the political trouble he is in because he has been fined by the British polices for breaking rules by attending parties at his residence and office during the period when covid-19 restrictions were in place. These infractions have led to calls from even within his party for him to resign but the sinking of his main rival may mute some of those calls.
Here is an earlier video by Pie made back in February for the New York Times where he describes Boris Johnson..
What that article omits is that Murty’s income from her holdings in her father’s company are £11 million a year. If she paid UK taxes she’d ‘lose’ £2.5 million, leaving her with a measly £8.5 million a year to get by on. The horror!
Yeah, my frigging heart bleeds for these yuks. I got a raise in my social security this year that amounts to 35 dollars a month after they take a couple hundred out every month for medicare that I dont even use. Try surviving on less than 800 a month. Burn the rich, please.
Rob Grigjanis says
No! Slow spit roasting with generous basting yields a much tastier outcome.
I don’t defend the rich or tax ‘dodging” but if these politicians did not create such rules and laws (such as non-doms) no-one could use them. And you can’t blame people who simply ollow laws which are legally passed in Parliament. So I blame the politicians and the governments, not this woman whoever she is.
Murty has now said she’ll drop her non-dom status. We’ll see. When the fact of it came out, there was an attempt to pretend she had no choice, because of her Indian citizenship. This was a bare-faced lie: citizenship and domicile are completely separate; the non-dom status has to be renewed every year and costs £30,000. It is supposed to be for people who intend to leave the UK and live elsewhere in future. Murty has lived in the UK for IIRC 8 years, is married to a UK politician, and has two children here.
Sunak has also now been issued with a £50 fixed-penalty notice for a breach of Covid regulations.He has somehow managed to scrape together that amount, meaning he doesn’t get a criminal record, but the combined effect of these events seems to have been to put paid to his chances of succeeding Johnson. It would not surprise me if he shortly leaves politics to spend more time with his
Not an exact equivalence, even if the job description is very close. The CotE is basically the second most important person in government after the PM -- so… Vice President, maybe -- except are they actually important or just “a heartbeat from being president”? Secretary of State? Leader of Congress? The Chancellor has real power -- they’re not a deputy and although they nominally report to the PM, they’re often in dynamic tension with them, most famously in the relationship between Blair and Brown between 1995 or so and 2008-ish.
What winds me up about this is that she’s done nothing illegal, and nor has Sunak. Years ago standup comedian Jimmy Carr was lambasted by the press and condemned by no less a person than David Cameron, the fucking Prime Minister at the time (because the PM isn’t ever too busy to comment on the tax arrangements of a comedian…), for a perfectly legal way of paying less tax than normal. He held his hands up and took the gags that persist to this day, and his explanation was “my accountant said ‘Do you want to pay less tax? It’s legal.’, and I said yes.”
That the people responsible for setting the rules he obeyed would then have a go at him for it was appalling. That those same people are now being lambasted for following the rules they’ve set is also, to me, appalling. Don’t have a go at them for doing legal things -- have a go at them for not making them illegal. That’s the real scandal, but as pointed out, what’s really going on here is Alexander Johnson attempting to divert attention from his lawbreaking.
Oh yes --
Not “rules” -- LAWS. They weren’t guidelines, or suggestions -- police were roaming parks arresting people sitting too close together, all while this cutter unt was going to parties and getting sloshed on the taxpayer. And now he’s been fined for breaking the law, and even well intentioned people minimise it by referring to it as breaking “rules”.
Alexander Johnson is the worst PM in our history, breaking the record set by his immediate predecessor. I fucking despair.
“This woman” is married to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the second most powerful person in the UK system of government, he is a politician, and he should have been brining in tighter laws, not enjoying the benefits of his wife taking advantage of the existing loose law. That is exactly why people are so pissed off about it.
I get that, but if governments make these stupid laws, they must expect people (whoever) to use them. Blame those who created them and those who Keep them in place.
“Blame those who created them” -- so, the politician she is married to, who is also raising taxes on the hoi polloi as we speak?
Bad news about the tax Rises.
But I doubt whether the husband created the non-doms law. It has been around for years.
Can we really expect a person (politician or not) to consider his status before deciding whether to abide by every single law and amendment?
Not legally! On moral grounds, perhaps., but this is a real minefield. Of corse, if our esteemed host wants to set the ball rolling, we can dive in and see where it takes us.
I’m amused by those springing to the defence of poor little Rishi, who has only his immense wealth and important political position to protect him from the snipers and naysayers!