British prime minister David Cameron has set out new measures to make it harder for people to hide the proceeds of corruption offshore, as Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne published details of their tax returns.
The chancellor’s release showed he received taxable income of £198,738 (€248,059.68) 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.
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,” he said.
Labour complained that Mr Cameron and Mr Osborne had avoided “full disclosure”, as they published summaries of their returns which were “as transparent as dishwater” rather than releasing the original documents.
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell repeated Labour calls for an independent inquiry, adding: “This is not about individuals, it’s about trust and fairness at the top of government.”
Mr Cameron accepted that he had not handled the row over his father’s Blairmore unit trust well, after a torrid week in which Downing Street’s response to the leak of the so-called Panama Papers changed several times.
However, he said he had been angry over “some deeply hurtful and profoundly untrue allegations” against his father Ian Cameron, who died in 2010.
“Mr Cameron, who inherited £300,000 from his father and received gifts worth £200,000 from his mother Mary, said that it was “natural human instinct” for parents to want to pass assets on to their children.
Meanwhile, the government will provide £10m for a new cross-agency taskforce to analyse the information contained in leaks linked to Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca.
Mr Corbyn dismissed the PM’s statement as a “masterclass in the art of distraction” and accused Mr Cameron of failing to appreciate the public anger over the “scandal of destructive global tax avoidance” revealed by the Panama Papers.
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