POLITICS

George Osborne Accused Of Talking 'B****cks' About How Rich He Was

12/04/2016 15:25 | Updated 12 April 2016
Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

George Osborne has been accused of talking "bollocks" after he claimed he did not personally benefit from a tax cut he gave the wealthy.

Yesterday the chancellor released details of his tax return which showed he earned £198,738 last year.

In 2014/15, Osborne's earned a salary of £120,526 as chancellor and an MP.

But this was topped up by £44,647 in dividend payments and rental income of £33,562.

In March 2012, the chancellor cut the top rate of tax on earnings over £150,000 from 50p to 45p.

This means he has benefited from the cut in the top rate.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme on the day he lowered the rate, Osborne said he was "not personally affected" by the change.

"I am not a big winner from this budget, I’m a not a winner from this Budget," he said. Asked if he was a 50p rate tax payer, he added: "I’m not actually, no."

A source close to the Chancellor told The Huffington Post that Osborne was clearly referring to the previous tax year, of 2010/11.

However former Labour leadership candidate Yvette Cooper said this morning that explanation was "bollocks", as the chancellor appeared to be talking about 2012 not 2010/11.

It is not possible to check how much Osborne earned at the time of the March 2012 Budget as the chancellor has not released his tax details for that year.

Labour MP John Woodcock told The Huffington Post: "The chancellor will face an angry house of commons at Treasury questions next week but he should surface from his hiding hole before then to face up to this very serious allegation of deceiving the public before the election."

The source close to Osborne said: "The Chancellor and his office were absolutely clear about his status as a taxpayer and that he was talking about the previous tax year [on the Today programme].

"Everyone can see every detail of his earnings today because of the unprecedented transparency he has now offered – the first Chancellor ever to do so.

"He has made a series of changes to tax – including on dividend payments, the taxation of pensions and mortgage interest relief -- that are likely to directly affect his own taxation."

Downing Street has pointed out that the top 20 per cent will pay a greater proportion of tax in 2019-20 than they did when Labour was last in power – and more than all other households put together.

In March 2012, an aide to the Chancellor told the Daily Mail at the time: 'In the most recent tax year, George Osborne was a higher rate taxpayer [the 40p rate].

"He has his salary and part of the rental income from one property that has a mortgage on it. He makes no use of tax avoidance schemes. "

Asked if the Chancellor would pay the 50p rate in his 2011/12 tax return, one source close to Osborne said at the time: "You can’t say that for certain. He goes through the normal process of self-assessment and those things are worked out later."

But the source repeatedly refused to deny that Osborne was likely to have earned enough over the past year to put him in the top tier of taxpayers.

The new 45p tax rate didn't come into effect until April 2013.

Responding to Osborne's 2012 Budget in the Commons, Ed Miliband directly challenged Conservative ministers over whether they benefited personally from the cut in the top rate of tax.

"Let's have some income tax transparency. Hands up in the cabinet if you are going to benefit from the income tax cut," he said, pointing at the Tory frontbench.

Osborne and David Cameron, as well as Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell, released their tax returns in the wake of the Panama Paper leaks.

Former Conservative leader William Hague this morning called for "maturity in the public debate" about taxes.

"Personal circumstances are not necessarily a good guide to how good they will be as a prime minister, a chancellor or anything else," he told Today.

"We've had leaders who had tax returns like [Winston] Churchill that would have been more difficult to defend in public than Prime Minister David Cameron's tax returns - but Churchill was the greatest leader of modern times," he added.

"So we're going to have to bear those things in mind and not expect everybody to be perfect or everybody to be normal.

One Tory minister told The Times it was not the wealth of Osborne and Cameron that was a problem, but how they had acted in power.

"It doesn’t matter whether or not you are rich provided you are conscious of the need to deal with the perception that the Tories are the party of the rich," they said.

"You can only do that if you truly believe in your heart of hearts that we need to change. Why has the burden of deficit reduction fallen so heavily on working age welfare? There is a point where you run out of excuses."

Yesterday the prime minister who inherited £300,000 from his father and received gifts worth £200,000 from his mother Mary, said it was "natural human instinct" for parents to want to pass assets on to their children.

He also set out new measures to make it harder for people to hide the proceeds of corruption offshore as he sought to draw a line under the row.

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