Chancellor Rishi Sunak is being told to publish his tax returns for the period when he was both an MP and a US green card holder.
The SNP says the chancellor needs to publicly declare this information so there is transparency on whether or not he avoided paying more tax in the UK.
This comes after his family’s tax arrangements, including his wife Akshata Murty’s non-dom status, were made public.
The SNP have now said if Mr Sunak did fail to pay UK tax as a result of his green card status, then “his position as chancellor is increasingly untenable”.
Why does Rishi Sunak have a green card?
Mr Sunak held a US green card, allowing him permanent residency in that country, until October 2021.
The chancellor studied for a master of business administration (MBA) degree at Stanford University in California from 2004 until 2006, where he met fellow student Ms Murty.
The couple married in 2009 and now have two daughters, and Mr Sunak returned his green card last year ahead of his first American trip as a UK government minister.
Ms Murty has non-domicile status in the UK, as she is officially domiciled to India via her billionaire father Narayana Murty.
She owns £700 million of shares in the Indian IT giant Infosys, which was founded by her father.
However her non-dom status means she is not required by law to pay UK taxes on her overseas income.
Last year Ms Murty received £11.6m in dividend income, meaning she avoided paying around £2.1m in tax.
4/ 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.
— Akshata Murty (@anmurty) April 9, 2022
Non-dom status was introduced by William Pitt the Younger in 1799 and those who want to benefit from this need to pay a fee of around £30,000 a year.
She has now decided to change her tax arrangements so it is not a “distraction” for her husband.
A Whitehall inquiry into how Ms Murty’s tax arrangements were leaked to the media is now underway.
SNP call for transparency
The SNP say the chancellor should publish his tax returns for the period when he was both an MP and a US green card holder.
Kirsten Oswald MP, the SNP’s deputy Westminster leader, said: “Rishi Sunak’s response to revelations that he held a US green card for a significant period of time when he was an MP and chancellor raises more questions than answers.
“It is now vital for transparency and trust that the chancellor publishes his tax returns over the period he held a US green card since he has been an MP to set out whether or not he avoided paying more tax in the UK.
“It is staggering that Mr Sunak is hammering ordinary families across the UK with tax hikes, refusing to tackle the Tory cost of living crisis, and gifting bankers with a £4 billion tax cut, all the while his billionaire family are saving millions through a tax loophole and he has been found to have held a US green card – with all the tax implications that come with that.”
She added: “Crucially, we need to know whether Mr Sunak failed to pay UK tax while serving as chancellor of the exchequer.
“His spokesperson has said tax was paid ‘where required’ for the duration he held his green card.
“Does that mean he paid US but no UK tax for a period while living in Downing Street and setting tax for all other UK citizens?
“If so, it is an astonishing admission and makes his position as chancellor increasingly untenable.”
A spokesman for HM Treasury said the chancellor provided a full list of relevant interests when he first became a minister in 2018 and the independent advisor on ministers’ interests is “completely satisfied”.
Sturgeon: ‘People will be angry’
This comes after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon criticised the chancellor and his wife Ms Murty for her non-dom status.
She said: “What we have heard in the last few days will leave people angry and perplexed.
“He’s tried to suggest the non-domiciled status of his wife is somehow an automatic consequence of the face she is an Indian national, when in actual fact, as I think has now been established, it is something she has chosen, applied for, paid tens of thousands of pounds in order to secure, and resulted in a situation where as he puts taxes up on ordinary people already struggling his own family is not paying tax on millions of pounds of earnings.
“I think that is something at the best of times people would struggle [with] and the ‘it’s within the letter of the law’ explanation I suspect makes people feel even angrier.
“This is a time when people are finding it really difficult to heat their homes and feed their children and they see a chancellor who just occupies a completely different universe in financial terms.”