UK PM Cameron publishes tax details

David-Cameron-007U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron published details of the taxes he’s paid since 2009 as he sought to draw a line under the furor over his personal finances, which culminated in him admitting on Thursday that he profited from an offshore fund set up by his father.

The four-page document, prepared by a firm of chartered accountants and published on Sunday, shows Cameron’s salary as prime minister, income from a house he rents out in London and interest on his savings. Over the six tax years through April 2015, he paid 402,283 pounds ($568,345) in tax on earnings of 1.08 million pounds, according to the data.

“As the prime minister said last week, he saw no issue with Prime Ministers and Leaders of the Opposition publishing the information that goes into their tax returns,” Cameron’s office said in a statement. The documents represent “a summary and explanation of the prime minister’s tax affairs going back six years. These cover his final year as Leader of the Opposition and all years as prime minister.”

Cameron also announced a task force to probe documents leaked from Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca as he sought to regain the initiative after being forced to acknowledge he once held shares in an offshore fund linked to his father, Ian, which was mentioned in the papers. He was accused of hypocrisy by the opposition Labour Party and protesters outside Downing Street on Saturday, because he has repeatedly condemned companies and individuals who avoid paying tax.

The task force will be made up of tax, fraud and criminal authorities and will pursue leads from the documents, Cameron said, a day after he accepted blame for the way in which he was forced — in five separate statements over four days — to acknowledge his links to an offshore fund.

Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, the U.K. tax authority, has already tracked down 2 billion pounds ($2.8 billion) from tax dodgers since 2010, and is chasing 700 leads relating to Panama, according to a statement on Sunday from the Treasury. HMRC will lead the probe with the National Crime Agency, with Cameron committing initial funding of 10 million pounds. Investigators and analysts from the Serious Fraud Office and the Financial Conduct Authority will also assist.

Cameron is seeking to boost his government’s record on cracking down on tax avoidance, a subject he has repeatedly returned to in meetings with governments and multilateral bodies around the world.
“The U.K. has been at the forefront of international action to tackle the global scourge of aggressive tax avoidance and evasion, and international corruption more broadly,” Cameron said in a statement. “There is clearly further to go and this task-force will bring together the best of British expertise to deal with any wrongdoing relating to the Panama Papers.”

Cameron promised to publish details of his tax affairs following his acknowledgment on Thursday that he sold about 30,000 pounds ($42,000) of shares in his father’s fund shortly before he became prime minister. He said he had paid all tax due on the stake.

The data show the prime minister’s taxable income totaled 1.08 million pounds for the six tax years through April 2015. That included 795,766 pounds in salary, 56,451 pounds in taxable expenses on items including travel and clothing, and 215,400 pounds from his 50 percent share in renting out his and his wife’s London home.

In the year 2013-14 he received 6,681 pounds in interest from savings in “a U.K. high street bank,” the documents show, suggesting substantial cash deposits at a time when the Bank of England base rate was 0.5 percent.

Cameron told Conservative Party activists on Saturday that the poor media management of the past week, and the fact it took five statements for him to clarify his relationship to his father’s fund, was his fault.

“Don’t blame Number 10 Downing Street or nameless advisers, blame me,” he said, to applause from the Conservative Party’s Spring Forum. “I know that I should have handled this better, I could have handled this better; I know there are lessons to learn and I will learn them.”

Cameron isn’t the only prominent figure to be dragged into fallout from publication of data from the leaked papers. The Icelandic prime minister and two European banking executives were forced to resign. It’s also causing problems for Argentine President Mauricio Macri, who said this week he will put his assets in a blind trust after a prosecutor said there were grounds to investigate him following revelations of his involvement in two companies listed in Panama.

More than 20 nations have announced probes and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development will host a meeting on April 13 to discuss cross-border tax compliance issues stemming from the leaks. The U.K. task-force will report back to the government “later this year,” the Treasury said.

The furor has hit Cameron at a time when his party has fractured over the June 23 in-out referendum on Britain’s European Union membership. The government is also struggling to answer questions about how it will prop up the country’s steel industry.

Back in the U.K., Cameron is hoping that the issue will soon be forgotten as the EU referendum draws closer. Before that, there are elections in 124 local councils in May as well as mayoral polls in four cities.
In a reminder of the divisions over the EU, the forum began with speeches by London Mayor Boris Johnson and the Tory candidate to succeed him, Zac Goldsmith, who both support a vote to leave the EU and delegates were handed goody bags by both the ‘leave’ and ‘remain’ campaigns on their way in. In his speech, Johnson referred to the day after the referendum as “Independence Day.” (Courtesy Bloomberg)

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