Within twelve hours of promising to do so, on Newsnight last night, all the main candidates in the mayoral election have released their records of income and tax paid – except one.
Over the last four years, Boris Johnson’s accountant states that he has earned £1,716,992 and paid £684,719 of this in income tax and National Insurance – a total tax take, even including allowances and reliefs, of 40 per cent, clearly showing that he has paid all the income tax he should have, and indeed perhaps then some. Not one penny of his earnings, says the accountant, was channelled through a company to pay 20% corporation tax instead of 40% income tax, as Ken Livingstone has done. The full table is shown above.
In the three years 2008-11, Brian Paddick states that he has earned a total of £326,242 in taxable income and paid £100,693 in tax – a total tax take of 31 per cent (the difference with Boris may be that Paddick may not have included National Insurance in his figures). Paddick’s figures are below; his 2012 figures are promised shortly.
Jenny Jones’s people say her sole earnings have been her salary as a member of the London Assembly and the former Metropolitan Police Authority – a total of £63,421 last year – plus a few very small “£50 and £75 type” fees for media appearances and the like. She has been taxed under PAYE for her salary and paid full income tax on the other income, they say.
There’s just the one holdout. In a letter to all the other candidates this morning, Patrick Heneghan, Ken’s campaign manager, says he won’t be publishing any data at all for Ken until all the other candidates publish the full income of their wives, husbands and partners as well!
“Publication of Ken’s return alone will not address many of the questions that have been raised,” says Heneghan. “The question of Ken’s income and his wife’s income and their tax has been central to the coverage of this issue…we believe that household income publication is necessary for full disclosure… the same principles need to be applied to all the candidates if this process is to be seen as open and fair.”
Let me put it like this, Patrick. From the figures we have seen this morning Johnson, Paddick and Jones have clearly paid their dues on what they earn. They have not, unlike your boss, used personal companies solely controlled by themselves and their partner to avoid at least £50,000 in tax. They have not split their income with their partner 50-50 to save tax, even if it was earned entirely by them. (Ken admitted again that he’d paid his wife from his company in the Newsnight debate yesterday.)
The other candidates have not admitted “income-spreading,” where a large amount of money earned in one year is held as a cash pile in the company and released in much smaller chunks over several years to avoid higher-rate tax. This admission alone – on the record and on tape by Ken – gives the lie to any claim he may now make that he has not been avoiding tax.
The other candidates’ partners are employed by other people and have built careers for themselves on their own merits. For the last twelve years, Ken’s wife’s sole employer has been… Ken. For eight of those years, by the way, she was on the public payroll at Ken’s City Hall – as, for a shorter period, was the mother of one of his other children. Nice work if you can get it!
Fear of the public knowing the full scale of Ken’s tax avoidance and his income from such exotic sources as Venezuela and Iran is, of course, the real reason why we will probably never get a full and honest look at his accounts.
It’s worth remembering that ten days ago now, challenged about his tax avoidance on BBC London, Ken said: “No journalist has contacted my accountant to ask anything about my tax arrangements. I’d be quite happy for them to do so.” As I mentioned in my previous post, I have spent the last ten days being repeatedly stonewalled. It is, of course, so much harder to practice full disclosure when you’ve got something to hide.
What I expect will eventually happen is what I predicted before: a bowdlerised and less than frank version of Ken’s finances will eventually trickle out. As I said earlier today, I do know rather more than I’ve published so far about Ken’s income, so with any luck I’ll spot it.
Boris’s team is now preparing to put a “countdown clock” on its website, ticking down the minutes until Ken keeps his promise. This is starting to feel like it could be the moment when the election was sealed against Ken.
UPDATE 13.30: It appears to be happening as I said: Ken has been forced into a U-turn and is trickling some figures to the Standard. I haveto go out but will cast my eye over them when I get back.
Brian Paddick income and tax figures:
Police pension: £63,397
Other earnings: £13,355
Total income received: £76,804
Total on which tax is due: £70,329
Total tax due (and paid): £14,534
Police pension: £63,397
Other earnings: £10,437
Total income received: £73,843
Total on which tax is due: £67,443
Total tax due (and paid): £18,292
Police pension: £63,397
Other earnings: £130,102
Total income received: £193,499
Total on which tax is due: £188,470
Total tax due (and paid): £67,867