The UK press is full of stories about the tax and immigration affairs of Chancellor Rishi Sunak and his wife Akshata Murthy.
In my view there is breathtaking hypocrisy at work here. Successive UK governments presided over by Labour, the Tories and the Tories/LibDems together have retained the tax exemption for unremitted foreign income of individuals who can satisfy HMRC they are domiciled outside the UK. I have long believed this exemption should be abolished because it is unfair to the bulk of taxpayers. Our politicians have failed to do so because they are desperate to persuade wealthy foreigners to live (and hopefully invest) in the UK.
It is perfectly acceptable for Mrs Sunak to claim a legal UK tax exemption if she chooses to do so. The attack on Mr Sunak’s US green card status is also bogus. We all know that is just a US immigration status and has no impact on a UK MP’s right or fitness to be elected or to serve as a Minister. Mr Sunak has erred however in failing to make these facts clear to the public earlier. He should have anticipated this political storm and prepared for it.
The real problem with Mr Sunak
I believe that the real reason Mr Sunak is unsuited to his role as Chancellor has nothing to do with his wife’s tax affairs or his US immigration status. The real reason is that he fancies we are living in the 1980s and have the scope to reduce taxes. That is a serious misjudgment of the UK’s predicament at a time when he have minimal productivity growth and a large part of the population face unaffordable fuel price increases. If anything we should be increasing taxes in the UK to fill the financial hole we are in because of Brexit and to fund increased defence spending.
Seeking to remove Mr Sunak from office because of his wife’s use of a perfectly legal tax exemption is a sad illustration of the fundamental unseriousness of UK politicians and political commentators. We are constantly told that Parliamant is supreme. If so, why do our MPs not just get on and abolish the tax exemption for non-domiciliaries?
Michael Ingle – firstname.lastname@example.org
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