Rishi Sunak's wife a 'legitimate' target over non-dom tax status, says Jess Phillips

7 April 2022, 19:33

Criticism of the Chancellor's wife 'completely legitimate'

By Sophie Barnett

Criticism of Rishi Sunak's wife over her non-domicile status is "completely legitimate", Labour MP Jess Phillips has told LBC.

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Ms Phillips was asked by Andrew Pierce whether it is fair for the Chancellor of the Exchequer's wife to face scrutiny for her non-dom status.

"It is completely legitimate because it isn't just her who will be benefitting from this, it is also him," Ms Phillips said.

"This is the man who creates the tax laws in our country, and talks to ordinary people in my constituency about how they've got to put their hands in their pockets.

"I don't think we should make that attack personal about her. It is about her affairs and what we tell other people to do about their affairs."

The MP for Birmingham Yardley, who has been an MP since 2015, added: "I'm afraid to say you have to live by the rules that you lay out to the country and it doesn't set a very good example if your own family aren't doing it."

Read more: 'Keep families out of it' Boris says amid row over non-dom status of Sunak's wife

Rishi Sunak's wife is one of 78,000 'non-doms' in the UK

She said it would not be right to criticise Akshata Murthy on a "personal level", explaining she hates comments made about Boris Johnson's wife Carrie, but said this scrutiny is "legitimate".

The Independent revealed on Wednesday that Ms Murthy, who is believed to be worth hundreds of millions of pounds, held non-dom status.

This means her permanent home is considered outside of the UK and, although she is still liable for UK tax on income made in this country, she does not have to pay UK tax on foreign income unless it is brought into the UK.

The newspaper claims the status could have saved the Chancellor's wife millions of pounds in tax on foreign earnings, but a spokeswoman for Ms Murthy said she has always paid UK taxes on her UK income.

The non-dom status is lawful and it is understood Ms Murthy pays foreign taxes on her overseas income.

Sir Keir Starmer says Rishi Sunak has 'very serious questions to answer' over his wife’s tax affairs

A spokeswoman for Ms Murthy confirmed she held non-dom status and said: "Akshata Murthy is a citizen of India, the country of her birth and parent's home.

"India does not allow its citizens to hold the citizenship of another country simultaneously

"So, according to British law, Ms Murthy is treated as non-domiciled for UK tax purposes.

"She has always and will continue to pay UK taxes on all her UK income."

It is understood Mr Sunak declared his wife's tax status when he became a minister in 2018, and the Treasury was also aware so that any potential conflicts could be managed.

Boris Johnson refused to comment on the controversy when questioned by reporters, saying: “I think it is very important in politics, if you possibly can, to try and keep people’s families out of it.”

Labour leader Keir Starmer led the attack on the Chancellor pointing to eye-watering tax rises Mr Sunak has overseen.

He called the situation “breathtaking hypocrisy”.