Conservative leadership candidates quizzed over personal tax

The five candidates who are standing in the Conservative party leadership election are coming under pressure to publish their tax returns as part of a move to ensure greater transparency over the financial affairs of the MP who goes on to become prime minister

Current justice secretary Michael Gove, who was a surprise entry into the leadership race at the end of last week, is so far the only one of those running to have made his tax affairs public.

The documents released show he paid nearly £70,000 tax in the two years up to April 2015. Gove’s salary in 2013/14 when he was education secretary was £117,786, which meant his personal allowance was reduced to £547.

In that financial year, Gove faced a tax deduction of £40,723, with an over payment of £214.20. He had previously underpaid by £15.20, the records show.

The following year, when Gove was made chief whip in a reshuffle, his earnings dropped to £96,071. The total tax deducted was £27,929 and the remaining tax due totalled £280.80.

Gove did not have any income from trusts, property and capital gains.

A spokesman for Gove said: ‘Michael accepts that candidates for the job of prime minister should be transparent about their income and tax affairs.’

Likely front runner Theresa May along with another challenger, Stephen Crabb, have both said they will publish their tax return details shortly.

However, the remaining candidates- Liam Fox and Andrea Leadsom -have said they will not make their tax arrangements public unless they go through to the final stage and are nominated as one of the two main challengers for the leadership position.

Leadsom, who worked in the investment banking sector before becoming an MP in 2010, has previously faced scrutiny over her tax arrangements, after it emerged she was using offshore bank accounts as part of a property business she ran with her husband.

Leadsom set up a buy-to-let company in 2003 before investing £1m in properties in the south of England. She later used an account based in Jersey, to deal with charges before transferring shares to her two children to be held in trust.

On appointment to a Treasury position, she subsequently stepped down as the director of the buy-to-let business, handing it over to her son instead.

There is no suggestion that Leadsom has done anything illegal, but her financial decision attracted attention during a period when there has been a focus on tax avoidance issues in general.

In an interview with her local paper at the time, Leadsom said: ‘Bandal Ltd is a totally UK company that is eligible for tax on all its profit. There is no offshore element of Bandal Ltd and there are no tax avoidance schemes.

‘I have paid tax on absolutely everything I have earned with the only exception being the year I worked for Barclays in Sydney, Australia.’

Pat Sweet |Reporter, Accountancy Daily [2010-2021]

Pat Sweet was the former online reporter at Accountancy Daily and contributor to the monthly Accountancy magazine, pub...

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