Rishi Sunak and his wife Akshata Murty had US green cards and were declared “US permanent residents” for tax purposes while Sunak was chancellor.
Sunak and Murty, who own a £5.5million California penthouse holiday home, held green cards while living in the US and continued to retain their status when they moved to the UK before Sunak was elected MP for Richmond (Yorks) in 2015. Sky News first reported that Sunak continued to hold a green card for at least a year of his chancellorship, which began in 2020.
The Treasury and Murty’s personal spokesperson did not respond to requests for comment. A source close to the couple said they “do not currently have green cards” but did not say when they relinquished the status which requires holders to “make the United States their permanent residence”.
The disclosure raises other tricky questions for the Chancellor – who said his multi-millionaire wife had claimed non-dom status, which allows her to avoid UK tax on her overseas earnings, as she once had l intend to return to live in India.
Under non-dom rules, Murty doesn’t legally have to pay UK tax on the £11.5m annual dividend she receives from her stake in her father’s IT business billionaire.
Non-dom status may have allowed him to avoid up to £20million in UK tax. Murty said she pays dividend tax overseas, but declined to say how much she pays or in which country. She previously received other income from shareholders via the Mauritian tax haven, which does not tax dividends.
Green card holders are required to pay US tax on their worldwide earnings – and also to legally commit to “making the United States your permanent residence”.
They are required to file annual U.S. tax returns and are “responsible for reporting your income and paying taxes on any income earned overseas.”
Sunak earlier told The Sun that Murty “loves her country like I love mine”, and said she has always been domiciled in India. He said she was eligible to use the non-dom arrangement as she was an Indian citizen and planned to return to her home country to care for her parents.
Under non-dom rules, Murty pays £30,000 a year for the right not to pay UK tax on his overseas income. The status will automatically cease once she has resided in Britain for 15 years, a milestone she is understood to reach in 2028.
Sunak insisted that Murty pays all taxes due in the UK, “and every penny she earns internationally, for example in India, she would pay full tax on that”.
Critics pointed out that he said Murty would “pay” all overseas income taxes, not that she paid him or stated how much. They also said Sunak only gave India as an example, leaving open the possibility that Murty paid tax in a tax haven where no tax would have been due.
Labour’s shadow attorney-general Emily Thornberry told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘At the end of the day we have someone who has lived here for eight years, is raising his children here, lives in…Downing Street in taxpayer-provided housing and aspires to be the wife of the next Prime Minister, yet she says she is not a permanent resident of this country.
She pointed to the ministerial code mentioning that the financial situation of ministers’ spouses is relevant because “there may be a conflict of interest”.