UK's Cameron releases tax records after criticisms

British Prime Minister David Cameron releases tax records in attempt to address questions about his personal finances

Photo by: Reuters (Archive)
Photo by: Reuters (Archive)

Britain's Prime Minister, David Cameron, addresses the Conservative Spring Forum in central London, Britain on April 9, 2016.

British Prime Minister David Cameron, published his tax record in an attempt on Sunday in hopes of defusing criticism about his personal finances raised by the mention of his late father in the Panama Papers.

The revelations that his father had a secret offshore fund that Cameron profited from has led to demands for Cameron's resignation and handed ammunition to opposition lawmakers who questioned why he was reluctant to detail his financial connections with his father.

Cameron took the unorthodox step of releasing the normally confidential details, after saying he should have handled the scrutiny of his family's tax affairs better.

The documents from English accountancy RNS - which cover six years - show Cameron paid tax of 75,898 pounds ($107,198) on income of 200,307 pounds in the 2014-2015 financial year, the most recent one included.

His income comprised his 140,522 pound salary, taxable expenses of 9,834 pounds, 46,899 pounds from half of the share of rent from his family home in London and 3,052 pounds in interest on savings, according to the record.

The leak of nearly 11.5 million tax documents has revealed an alleged network of offshore tax fortunes linked to world leaders and celebrities. 

After four days and four different statements over his late father's inclusion in the "Panama Papers," Cameron admitted that he profited from his father’s Panama-based offshore fund in an interview on Thursday.

He said the unit investment trust was not set up to avoid tax but to invest in dollar-denominated shares and that he had paid all taxes due on his own investment, which was worth "something like 30,000 pounds" when he sold out in January 2010, before he became prime minister.

Cameron's admission of fault comes after a torrid period for his Conservative government. It is divided over a June 23 referendum on whether to remain in the European Union, has been forced to backtrack on welfare cuts and has been accused of not protecting Britain's steel industry.

Seeking to further take back the initiative, Cameron also announced on Sunday a new taskforce, jointly led by Britain's tax authority and National Crime Agency, to build on the work Britain has done to tackle money laundering and tax evasion.

Demonstrators hold placards during a protest outside Downing Street in Whitehall, central London, Britain April 9, 2016.

When Britain hosted a G8 summit in 2013, Cameron put tackling tax avoidance at the heart of the agenda. Some of Britain's former colonies increasingly rely on revenues from shell companies and trusts that often hide wealth.

"The UK 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 taskforce will bring the best of British expertise to deal with any wrongdoing relating to the Panama Papers."

The government said it had tracked down 2 billion pounds ($2.82 billion) from offshore tax dodgers since 2010, and authorities were already investigating 700 current leads with links to Panama.

The taskforce will receive 10 million pounds of funding to start work, the government said.

German politicians urge Cameron to do more in fight against tax evasion

German politicians have called on British Prime Minister David Cameron to do more in tackling the use of offshore companies set up in British overseas territories to evade taxes.

"We'll only be convincing on the international stage if we are, first of all, fully compliant in the EU and for me, that includes Britain exerting influence over its overseas territories - we need to make that clear to the Brits in upcoming talks," senior conservative politician Ralph Brinkhaus told German local newspaper.

Carsten Schneider, a budget expert for Germany's Social Democrats, the junior partner in Chancellor Angela Merkel's ruling coalition, also said the British prime minister needed to take action in the light of last week's revelations from the "Panama Papers."

Media that have seen the files leaked from Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca say more than half of the 200,000 offshore companies set up by the firm were registered in the British Virgin Islands, where details of ownership do not have to be filed with authorities. The law firm denies any wrongdoing.

"If David Cameron still wants to be taken seriously personally and politically in the fight against tax fraud and tax evasion, Britain needs to close the loopholes in its own country immediately," Schneider said.

TRTWorld and agencies