This evening Rishi Sunak’s wife Akshata Murty has announced that she will pay UK taxes on her overseas income, following a public backlash after reports of her tax arrangements as a non-domicile emerged on Wednesday night. The change in tack comes after the Chancellor used an interview with the Sun newspaper to accuse political opponents of ‘smearing’ his wife in order to hurt him.
In a statement, Murty said that while her tax arrangement up until now was ‘entirely legal’, it had ‘become clear that many do not feel it is compatible with my husband’s role as Chancellor’ and she ‘will now pay UK tax on an arising basis on all my worldwide income, including dividends and capital gains, wherever in the world that income arises’:
‘Since arriving in the UK, I have been made to feel more welcome than I ever could have imagined, in both London and our home in North Yorkshire. This is a wonderful country.In recent days, people have asked questions about my tax arrangements: to be clear, I have paid tax in this country on my UK income and international tax on my international income.
This arrangement is entirely legal and how many non-domiciled people are taxed in the UK. But it has become clear that many do not feel it is compatible with my husband’s role as Chancellor. I understand and appreciate the British sense of fairness and I do not wish my tax status to be a distraction for my husband or to affect my family.
For this reason, I will no longer be claiming the remittance basis for tax. This means I will now pay UK tax on an arising basis on all my worldwide income, including dividends and capital gains, wherever in the world that income arises. I do this because I want to, not because the rules require me to. These new arrangements will begin immediately and will also be applied to the tax year just finished (21-22).
Until now, I have tried to keep my professional life and my husband’s political career entirely separate. Since Rishi entered parliament, he has not involved himself in my business affairs and I have left politics to him. When I met him we were 24 year old business school students, living in another country, and had no idea of where life would take us. Rishi has always respected the fact that I am Indian and as proud of my country as he is of his. He has never asked me to abandon my Indian citizenship, ties to India or my business affairs, despite the ways in which such a move would have simplified things for him politically. He knows that my long-standing shareholding in Infosys is not just a financial investment but also testament to my father’s work, of which I am incredibly proud.
My decision to pay UK tax on all my worldwide income will not change the fact that India remains the country of my birth, citizenship, parents’ home and place of domicile. But I love the UK too. In my time here I have invested in British businesses and supported British causes. My daughters are British. They are growing up in in the UK. I am so proud to be here.’
Will the statement be enough to stem the row? That’s unlikely. Many have already made up their mind. But after Sunak allies suggested that tax questions were illegitimate, it shows a change in tack when it comes to shoring up the Chancellor’s position.
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