British Prime Minister David Cameron will publish his tax returns “in the coming weeks,” Downing Street spokespeople confirmed on Friday.
The announcement comes a day after the prime minister admitted that he once owned shares in his father’s offshore trust and profited from them.
Cameron revealed the full extent of his investment in Blairmore Holdings to ITV’s political editor Robert Peston is a detailed TV interview on Thursday night.
Cameron told Peston that he and his wife Samatha used to own around £30,000 worth of shares in the trust which was originally incorporated in Panama. He still held the shares while he was the leader of the opposition, but sold them in 2010 before he became prime minister.
On Sunday, a giant leak of documents from a law firm based in Panama, revealed the offshore holdings of 140 politicians, public officials, and athletes around the world. Those documents revealed more about Cameron’s father’s role as a founding director of the Blairmore trust.
According to the ICIJ, six members of the House of Lords, three former Conservative MPs, and lots of British political donors also hold or have held assets offshore.
Here is what Cameron told Peston about the shares he used to hold. The added emphasis is ours.
Samantha and I had a joint account and we owned 5,000 units in Blairmore Investment Trust, which we sold in January 2010. That was worth something like £30,000. I paid income tax on the dividends. There was a profit on it but it was less than the capital gains tax allowance so I didn’t pay capital gains tax. But it was subject to all the UK taxes in all the normal way. I want to be as clear as I can about the past, about the present, about the future, because frankly I don’t have anything to hide.
Here’s Cameron’s explanation for why he sold his shares before he became Prime Minister.
But I was keen in 2010 to sell everything — shares, all the rest of it — so I can be very transparent. I don’t own any part of any company or any investment trust or anything else like that.
And here is Cameron’s response to people who might think the fund itself was set up as a “tax dodge.”
It was set up after exchange controls went so that people who wanted to invest in dollar denominated shares and companies could do so. There are many other unit trusts like it, and I think it’s being unfairly described and my father’s name is being unfairly written about.
Downing Street later confirmed that the Camerons bought their shares in Blairmore for £12,497 and sold it in January 2010 for £31,500. They made a profit of around £19,000, which explains why they didn’t need to pay any capital gains tax — the joint capital gains allowance was £20,200.
Now, some people are calling for the prime minister to resign. Labour MP John Mann tweeted Cameron should go because he has been dishonest and the Guardian and the Independent have both published opinion pieces calling for the prime minister to step down.
A protest outside Downing has been organised on Facebook for Saturday. The event has been promoted by whistleblower Edward Snowden, as has the hashtag #ResignCameron, which is currently trending on Twitter.
It’s important to note that Cameron has not admitted to tax evasion or tax avoidance.
As Cameron pointed out, offshore unit trusts that are administered from countries that are in the dollar area can be a perfectly legitimate and sensible way of running funds that primarily invest in companies that are also in the dollar area. Cameron paid tax on his dividends and didn’t need to pay any capital gains tax when he sold off his shares.
Here’s a brief timeline of what has happened since the Panama Papers came out:
Sunday: The Panama Papers come out, revealing more about the role Cameron’s father had as director of the Blairmore Holdings.
Monday: The prime minister’s spokesperson told journalists who were asking questions that it was a “private, personal matter.”
Tuesday: A journalist asks Cameron whether he has, does or will benefit from offshore funds. Cameron carefully answers the question by saying that he doesn’t own any shares. Downing Street thought that they had done enough, saying that journalists who continued to ask questions needed “to put up or shut up. The prime minister has put out a very clear statement.”
Wednesday: Downing Street says that Cameron and his family won’t benefit from offshore funds in the future.
Thursday: Cameron says that he and is wife used to have shares in an offshore fund.
Britain’s opposition and the Scottish National Party have both called out the “hypocrisy” of Cameron’s involvement in the fund and his delay in admitting to owning shares.
SNP economy spokesman Stewart Hosie MP has been saying:
David Cameron says he doesn’t have anything to hide, yet had it not been for the Panama Papers leak we would have been none the wiser – and even then it has taken him several days to clarify he benefited from his father’s off-shore trust.
And here is what Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson has been saying:
“The time has come for David Cameron to put the record straight rather than having details dragged from him in instalments…. It feels like the prime minister is governing from the shadows in this announcement today. That he’s been withholding personal information that he feels personal shame about.”
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