London: U K Chancellor of Exchequer Rishi Sunak’s wife, Akshata Murty, bowed to pressure to pay UK taxes on Friday night after Boris Johnson said he had been unaware she was a “non-dom” and fresh questions emerged over the couple’s tax affairs. She is the daughter of Infosys founder N R Narayana Murty.
With Sunak’s position under increasing threat, Murty said she realised many people felt her tax arrangements were not “compatible with my husband’s job as chancellor”, adding that she appreciated the “British sense of fairness”.
She will pay tax on all worldwide income in future and for the last tax year, but not on backdated income, which could have saved her an estimated £20m of UK tax on foreign earnings from her billionaire father’s Indian IT company.
However, her decision is unlikely to stop the scrutiny of Sunak and Murty’s tax affairs and financial interests, with calls from Labour and the Lib Dems for an investigation into whether Sunak has broken the ministerial code by failing to be transparent.
Sunak was on Friday forced to confirm he had a US green card – meaning he had declared himself a “permanent US resident” for tax purposes for 19 months while he was chancellor and for six years as an MP.
A source close to the couple also confirmed Murty held a green card as well.
The disclosure appears at odds with Sunak’s defence of his wife being a non-dom – he said she intended to one day return to live in India.
the Treasury last week brought in a new low tax scheme that is partly designed to benefit some wealthy non-dom investors – just days before Sunak’s national insurance rise hit millions of working people at the height of a cost of living crisis.
The new laws specifically mention fund manager non-doms as a category of people who can benefit by not having to pay tax on foreign earnings through the new vehicles.
The Treasury had previously claimed Sunak had made no changes to non-dom policy since 2017, raising new questions over whether the Treasury was fully informed about Sunak’s family’s tax arrangements when formulating policy.
UK taxpayers are required to pay a 40% take on inheritance (above £325,000), while non-doms are exempt from the tax. Murty has assets of at least £690m held in Infosys shares, the tax charged on this at a rate of 40% would be £276m.
Murty and Sunak also own four properties worth more than £15m in total, and she also holds substantial investments in other companies.
It is understood Sunak and Murty, who own a £5.5m California penthouse holiday home, have donated $3m (£2.3m) to a US university in recent years.