… 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..