Rishi Sunak’s wife’s admission that she has non-domiciled status for UK tax purposes has intensified scrutiny on her family firm – which received millions in taxpayer cash to furlough its staff.
Holding non-domiciled status means that Akshata Murty – who is believed to be worth hundreds of billions of pounds – does not have to pay UK tax on income she earns outside Britain. Her spokeswoman told the BBC she pays all the tax legally required in Britain.
Labour said it was “staggering” that Sunak’s family “may have been benefitting from tax reduction schemes”, and called on the chancellor to “urgently explain how much he and his family have saved on their own tax bill at the same time he was putting taxes up for millions of working families”.
The timing of the revelation is especially embarrassing for Sunak, given that the news – first reported by the Independent – came on the day a controversial National Insurance rise came into force.
It is also particularly embarrassing because his wife is believed to have leaned heavily on the state during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Murty is listed on LinkedIn as being director of capital and private equity firm Catamaran Ventures, gym chain Digme Fitness, and gentlemen’s outfitters New and Lingwood.
Digme Fitness – a boutique gym – reportedly accepted taxpayer handouts through the furlough scheme.
The business was forced to close its high-end exercise studious and gyms because of the pandemic, and registered a claim of up to £100,000 to help retain its staff. Murty is listed on Companies House as a director of the business.
Many have also been quick to point to the fact that a global IT company set up by Murty’s billionaire father used taxpayers’ money to furlough three per cent of its UK staff at the height of the first Covid lockdown.
Infosys, a software and consulting giant with its headquarters in India, has recently been criticised for belatedly closing its office in Moscow. NR Naryana Murty’s stake in Infosys gives him a £1.7 billion fortune, according to Forbes.
At the time, the company refused to say how many people it employs in the UK – but sources told The Times it was around 10,000, meaning it likely furloughed around 300 workers, with the Treasury picking up 80 per cent of their salaries up to the value of £2,500 a month.
Her spokeswoman confirmed that “according to British law, Murty is treated as non-domiciled for UK tax purposes. She has always and will continue to pay UK taxes on all her UK income.”
She added: “Akshata Murty is a citizen of India, the country of her birth and parents’ home. India does not allow its citizens to hold the citizenship of another country simultaneously.”
But Labour said “The chancellor has imposed tax hike after tax hike on the British people.
“It is staggering that, at the same time, his family may have been benefitting from tax reduction schemes.
“This is yet another example of the Tories thinking it is one rule for them, another for everyone else.
“Rishi Sunak must now urgently explain how much he and his family have saved on their own tax bill at the same time he was putting taxes up for millions of working families and choosing to leave them £2,620 a year worse off.”