David Cameron's Tax Return
The Prime Minister could have saved himself a lot of bother had he delivered on an intimation reported in this column exactly four years ago.
Then, he and George Osborne enthused about sharing their tax returns with the British public.
It isn’t clear what went wrong in between but neither return has been forthcoming until this weekend.
Mr Cameron’s tax return was always likely to be boring. The multi-million pound question is how much further one would have to delve to get to any sexy stuff.
Almost every AccountingWEB subscriber is likely to be very familiar with tax returns. Indeed, most of us are probably sick of the sight of them after years of helping tardy clients to make declarations at the very last minute.
Even so, I’ll bet readers were searching the Internet with fervour when details of this high profile return were finally released.
As expected, it contains the relatively hefty prime ministerial salary (although bankers would not get out of bed for such a paltry sum), significant rental income on a second property, a bit of bank interest and very little else.
It is that very little else that might ring alarm bells. We know that the Prime Minister is in common parlance a toff. We also now know that his late father protected the family wealth by the legitimate use of a company in Ireland, while his mother has utilised common inheritance tax planning arrangements.
The big question is whether the family have used any tools to make the most of their money without it going anywhere near David Cameron’s tax return.
If the PM is like most of our wealthy clients, particularly those who are aware both of the possibility of public scrutiny and the need to minimise tax liabilities, in order to understand the family’s true, underlying wealth it would be necessary to find out a significant amount of additional information before he gets the all clear.
First, one would need to see his wife Samantha's tax returns as she may well be much wealthier than hubby. Secondly, it is possible that their three splendidly named children (look up their names on Wikipedia for a treat) are richer than the vast majority of kids in the country. In particular, they may well have enjoyed significant inheritances from their grandfather and gifts from grandmamma as part of the inheritance tax strategy or could do so when other family members eventually pass away.
Finally, in that the Camerons move in circles who like complicated financial arrangements, Mr C may wish to provide a full list of companies and trusts or equivalents of which anybody mentioned in this article is or has been a shareholder/beneficiary.
If I had any funds in an account set up by a Panamanian lawyer, I might wager a small proportion that Mr and Mrs Cameron will not provide everything on this rich menu. However, sadly that is the only way that they can ultimately prove complete innocence in this prurient world.
One other question begs to be asked. If your employer gives you a free property, should you not feel honour bound to pass the £350,000 a year that you make from your home back in grateful thanks? Other MPs have been hauled over the coals for failing to do exactly that.
Having started the ball rolling, as suggested four years ago, it would be good if the other 649 members of Parliament followed suit and published their own and their loved ones’ tax returns. Perhaps after his pronouncements four years ago the Chancellor of the Exchequer might like to lead the way.