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Thursday 5 April 2012

Boris And A Tax Return – The End

They said they’d do it: London Mayoral hopefuls Ken Livingstone, Brian Paddick and Jenny Jones, plus current occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson agreed to publish their tax details. Bozza went first, with Paddick and Ms Jones weighing in soon afterwards, followed by Livingstone. And the immediate conclusion is to ask why Bozza didn’t do the deed a lot earlier.

Bozza has indeed paid Income Tax on all his earnings – minus a small amount in allowances over the past four years – and his Class 4 National Insurance contributions are down to him being classed as “self employed”. The amount of Income Tax he paid in the last tax year was over £210,000 – rather more than the rough estimate I posted previously.

So fair play to Bozza say I. It would have been far better for his campaign if Messrs Begbies had put this out instead of talking of not “sheltering” income. So what of the challengers? Brian Paddick’s income consists mainly of his pension from the Met, and fair play once more: he was, until his retirement, a Deputy Assistant Commissioner, one of the most senior ranks in the force.

Paddick earned a total of just under £77,000 last year. He appears, like Johnson, to pay Income Tax on all his earnings in the current year, with no significant deduction for expenses. Jenny Jones has declared that her main source of income is as a Member of the London Authority (MLA) with some media fees in addition. That takes her total up to around £65,000.

Ken Livingstone’s summary of income for the past four years shows that he has taken just over £63,000 in Income this past year, plus a pension contribution of £25,500. The numbers to watch are the small “salary” and significant “dividend”. Both are income, but only the former attracts National Insurance payments. However, Ken is over state pension age.

This means he may have paid in sufficient for a full state pension already. If he’s been in continuous employment and has paid NI over the years, that will be the case. But, the cry will come, his company had an income of well over £200,000 last year. So it did. It also employed three other people, and they pay their own Income Tax, whatever their relationship with Livingstone’s company.

And what is also clear is that, even taking significant sums in dividends, not only is Corporation Tax due on those dividends, but Income Tax is also payable: thus the Revenue get you at least for the latter no matter how you slice it. This, of course, will not stop the Ken bashers from creative reinterpretation and demands for yet more detail – and more tax.

Politics, creative information processing, and spin. It was ever thus.

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