Zahawi: ‘Unsustainable’ to stay amid investigation says Berry
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A new law to force MPs to publish their full tax returns has been backed by almost three quarters (73 percent) of British voters in a new poll. The Techne UK survey comes on the back of a scandal involving former Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi who has just been forced to pay HMRC £4.8 million in unpaid taxes and penalties.
According to the survey, just 16 percent thought that MPs shouldn’t have to publish their tax returns as feelings ran high over Mr Zahawi’s error.
Last year, Mr Zahawi became the first Chancellor of the Exchequer to be investigated by his own department when he was appointed by Boris Johnson to the Treasury after the resignation of Mr Sunak.
Since Mr Johnson’s departure from Downing Street, Mr Zahawi has remained in the Cabinet for both Liz Truss and Mr Sunak – whose own tax affairs have come under the spotlight as a result of the scandal.
Downing Street has confirmed that Mr Sunak has not paid a fine to HMRC himself and the Prime Minister has promised to publish his own tax returns in due course.
However, there was some anger that when he was Chancellor and putting up taxes, Mr Sunak’s wife was legally avoiding them with her non-dom status.
According to the Techne research of 1,624 voters, the issue has united people across the age, social, economic and political divide.
While 69 percent of Tory voters want MPs to publish their tax returns, 75 percent of Labour voters agree.
Remain voters from 2016 back the proposal with 75 percent while 72 percent Leave voters supported it as well.
Among 18-to-34-year-olds 71 percent back the move while 76 percent of 65-year-olds and over also support it.
There is speculation that Mr Zahawi, who is clinging on to his political career, may resign this weekend before the 10 day investigation into his tax affairs concludes.
Earlier it was revealed that the same Techne UK survey showed that 62 percent think that Zahawi should resign.
The issue surrounding the Conservative chairman centres on shares in Youtube, the polling company he founded.
Zahawi claimed said that HMRC concluded there had been a “careless and not deliberate” error in the way the founders’ shares, which he had allocated to his father, had been treated.
He has also insisted he is “confident” he has “acted properly throughout”.
But a different light was shed on the issue by HMRC chief executive Jim Harra.
He told MPs on the powerful Public Accounts Committee that he did not believe it was “an innocent error”.
Mr Harra said: “I am not commenting on any particular person’s affairs but carelessness is a concept in tax law.
“It can be relevant to how many back years that we can assess and it can be relevant to whether someone is liable to a penalty and if so, what penalty they will be liable to for an error in their tax affairs.
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Mr Harra went on: “There are no penalties for innocent errors in your tax affairs.”
“So if you take reasonable care, but nevertheless make a mistake, whilst you will be liable for the tax and for interest if it’s paid late, you would not be liable for a penalty.
“But if your error was as a result of carelessness, then legislation says that a penalty could apply in those circumstances.”
The scandal appears to have hurt the Tories who according to the Techne UK/ Express.co.uk tracker have fallen two points further back behind Labour to a 21 percent gap.
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