David Cameron has set out new measures to make it harder for people to hide the proceeds of corruption offshore, as Jeremy Corbyn and George Osborne published details of their tax returns.
The Chancellor’s release showed he received a total taxable income of £198,738 in 2014/15, including £44,647 in the form of dividends and rental income of £33,562, and that he paid income tax of £72,210. The figures showed Mr Osborne was earning enough to benefit from his cut in the top rate of income tax from 50p to 45p.
If this were to come in for MPs, people would also ask for a similar approach for those who ask us questions, those who run large public services…PRIME MINISTER DAVID CAMERON
Meanwhile, Mr Corbyn declared just £1,850 of taxable income in 2014/15 over and above his parliamentary salary. The Labour leader had to pay a £100 fine after filing the return late.
In a Commons statement, Mr Cameron – who published details of his own tax return at the weekend – said he believed there was a “strong case” for the Prime Minister, leader of the opposition, Chancellor and shadow chancellor to make their tax affairs public, but did not think the same should apply to all MPs.
“If this were to come in for MPs, people would also ask for a similar approach for those who ask us questions, those who run large public services, or lead local government, or indeed those who edit the news programmes or newspapers,” he said.
“I think this would be a very big step for our country, it certainly shouldn’t take place without a long and thoughtful debate and it is not the approach that I would recommend.”
Mr Cameron accepted that he had not handled the row over his father’s Blairmore unit trust well, after Downing Street’s response to the leak of the so-called Panama Papers changed several times.
But he said he had been “angry” over “some deeply hurtful and profoundly untrue allegations” against his father Ian Cameron, who died in 2010.
The Prime Minister said it was right to “tighten the law and change the culture” to crack down on evasion and aggressive avoidance”, but the government should “defend the right of every British citizen to make money lawfully”.
Mr Cameron announced that most British crown dependencies and overseas territories have now agreed to share information in future with UK police and law enforcement authorities.
He said similar agreements were expected soon with Guernsey and Anguilla. And he confirmed plans to legislate this year on the Conservatives’ manifesto commitment to create a new criminal offence for companies which fail to prevent their representatives facilitating tax evasion.