Rishi Sunak made the latest clarification moments after Boris Johnson insisted he was doing an ‘outstanding job’ – but ducked mounting questions over the Chancellor’s family tax affairs
Rishi Sunak has admitted he had a US green card for more than a YEAR while he was Chancellor.
Mr Sunak held the document, which allows people to live and work in America, until his first trip to the US in a Government capacity in October 2021, his spokeswoman confirmed.
He became Chancellor in February 2020. It’s understood he gave up the green card in advance of his US trip, possibly in August 2021.
Holders of green cards are required to pay US tax on their worldwide income and it carries an obligation to make America your permanent home.
Mr Sunak and his wife Akshata Murty, who met at Stanford University, lived in the US previously and are understood to own a holiday home in Santa Monica, California.
His spokeswoman said: “Rishi Sunak had a green card when he lived and worked in the US.
“Under US law, you are not presumed to be a US resident just by dint of holding a green card. Furthermore, from a US immigration perspective, it is presumed that permanent resident status is automatically abandoned after prolonged absences from the US.
“At the same time, one is required to file US tax returns. Rishi Sunak followed all guidance and continued to file US tax returns, but specifically as a non-resident, in full compliance with the law.
“As required under US law and as advised, he continued to use his green card for travel purposes. Upon his first trip to the US in a Government capacity as Chancellor, he discussed the appropriate course of action with the US authorities.
“At that point it was considered best to return his green card, which he did immediately.
“All laws and rules have been followed and full taxes have been paid where required in the duration he held his green card.”
It came moments after Boris Johnson was grilled over the Chancellor’s family’s tax affairs as he appeared at a Downing Street press conference alongside German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
Asked if it was acceptable for Mr Sunak to hold a green card while a minister, the PM blustered: “On that issue, as I understand it, the Chancellor has done absolutely everything he was required to do.”
The PM declared Mr Sunak had his full support and denied that Downing Street was briefing against him after a Tory blame game erupted over reports about Mr Sunak’s wife’s tax status.
The Chancellor accused Labor of leading a smear campaign against Ms Murty, who holds non-domicile status which means she does not have to pay UK tax on overseas income.
Mr Johnson said: “If there are such briefings they are not coming from us in No 10 and heaven knows where they are coming from.
“I think that Rishi is doing an absolutely outstanding job.”
Ms Murty initially said she held the status automatically as she is an Indian citizen – an explanation questioned by critics.
But later she said she pays £30,000-a-year to the UK Government to keep her non-dom status.
Her spokeswoman said she pays tax on all income due in the UK and international taxes on her international income.
Allies of Mr Sunak are said to have pointed the finger at No 10 over the leaks, after reports of tensions between Boris Johnson and his Chancellor over spending.
No10 and No11 have denied the claims.
The details of his wife’s tax status emerged on the same day Mr Sunak hiked national insurance for millions.
Ms Murty, who married the Chancellor in 2009, is the daughter of an Indian billionaire NR Naranya Murty, who founded IT business Infosys.
She is reported to hold a 0.91% stake in Infosys, worth an estimated £11.6 million per year.
She would not pay UK tax at a rate of 39.35% on her dividends under the arrangement.
With Ms Murty born in India and her father also from the south Asian country, UK Government rules allow her to list India, rather than the UK, as her permanent residence, meaning different tax rules on foreign earnings apply.
This means her permanent home is considered to be outside the UK despite the Sunaks living in Downing Street.
Non-dom status is legal and can save an individual from paying UK tax on income from dividends from foreign investments, rental payments on property overseas or bank interest.
It also allows an individual to avoid inheritance tax in the UK.
The status automatically ceases after someone has lived in Britain for 15 years, with Ms Murty expected to reach that milestone in 2028.