WHEN CAN WE EXPECT TO SEE CAMERON’S TESCO CLUB CARD?

JOHN McGURK

The fury over David Cameron’s tax affairs has run out of control and is fast turning into a theatrical farce

The fact of the matter is that he is suffering from a condition which the rest of us know very little about; he was born into money.

Wealth has revolved around David Cameron all of his life thanks to his father and grandfather, both stockbrokers, and great-great grandfather Cameron who made a fortune selling grain in Chicago.

What was he supposed to do with the £30,000 worth of shares he accepted from his late father’s offshore tax affairs?

He did what any of us would have done.

He took the money, thank you very much, although he realised he had better get rid of the shares before he entered Downing Street. So he sold them for a relatively small profit paying the tax in the process.

What was he supposed to do with the £300,000 his father left him in his will?

Should he have said “no thanks” and investigated if his father had paid tax on the money? Should he have objected to the fact that the sum was below the £325,000 inheritance tax threshold?

He did what any of us would have done.

What was he supposed to do with the £200,000 his 82 year-old mother gifted him? As long as she lives for another two years, he will also legally avoid paying inheritance tax.

He did what any of us would have done.

Cameron’s mistake, when the Panama Papers came to light last week, was his fecklessness and inability to explain why he had accepted offshore shares by making ambiguous and disingenuous statements over four days.

It was a lesson in how not to deal with the media despite the fact that he spent seven years as a PR man.

Perhaps the fact that he publicly denounced the comedian Jimmy Carr, who was caught out benefiting from a similar dodgy tax arrangement a couple of years ago, made him a tad nervous.

In truth, Cameron may have accepted morally questionable money from his father but he did nothing illegal, as far as we can tell, and now stands accused by Labour’s Tom Watson as the “tax dodging Prime Minster”.

This has led to the publication of his income tax returns since he entered Downing Street which reveal that he paid £400,000 in tax on £1.1.million earnings over the last six years.

The Chancellor, George Osborne, another victim of a very wealthy family, has now done the same.

Labour, in the hope that Cameron’s family were up to their necks in offshore cash, is now demanding that he also reveals the tax details of his time as leader of the opposition.

The Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in making his tax return public, at first couldn’t find it and then confessed that he was fined £100 for not submitting it within the January deadline thereby adding more comedy to the farce. 

Scottish Labour’s Kezia Dugdale has also published her tax details, despite the fact that nobody really cares, and there is much talk about cabinet ministers and possibly every MP having to do the same.

Who knows where this will end.

Will David Cameron have to reveal the details of his no-claims bonus? Does he have any Green Shield stamps? What about air miles? Does he pay cash to his window cleaner and gardener at his constituency home and not ask for a receipt?

Those other personalities named in the Panama Papers such as Simon Cowell, Sarah Ferguson, Nick Faldo, Heather Mills, Mark Thatcher, Jackie Chan and Lionel Messi can all thank David Cameron for taking the heat of them.

Then there’s the 72 current or former heads of government who are also implicated, some of whom are suspected of looting money from their own countries and salting it away somewhere in the Caribbean.

The argument to reform British tax havens is unquestionable but so are the very many loopholes which appear to exist within our current domestic tax system.

Avoiding tax, or getting round the rules, is a national pastime for many lawyers and accountants.

In recent years, BBC celebrities including Fiona Bruce and Jeremy Paxman were even encouraged to set up their own companies to reduce their tax commitments and thereby avoid the need for the corporation to pay national insurance.

Maybe we should see their tax returns as well.  After all, the BBC is a publicly accountable organisation and is funded by a licence fee.

Arguably, some of those named above have taken greater tax avoidance measures than David Cameron but the row over his affairs seems never ending.

When can we expect to see his Tesco Club Card?

jcmcgurk@blueyonder.co.uk

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