Jeremy Corbyn: All MPs and political journalists should publish tax returns

Posted On: 
10th April 2016

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn today suggested everyone standing for election and all political journalists should be made to publish their tax returns.

Jeremy Corbyn has suggested all MPs and political journalists should publish their tax returns
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In a significant toughening up of Labour's stance on financial transparency, he said voters must "know what influences are at work" from public figures.

His comments, in an interview with the BBC's Andrew Marr Show, came after David Cameron became the first Prime Minister to publish his own tax returns.

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It followed the Prime Minister's admission that he and his wife made £19,000 from investments in an offshore trust.

Mr Corbyn has also pledged to release his tax documents, but gave a clear signal that he would go even further if he enters Number 10.

Andrew Marr asked him: "In specific terms, could we see a future Labour government saying if you want a role in public life, if you want to stand for elections, perhaps if you want to be on programmes like this interviewing people, or be a newspaper editor or a political journalist, you must in future publish your income tax return?"

The Labour leader replied: "I think it's probably a good thing if we move generally in that direction so everybody knows what influences are at play. Money and politics have to be treated with the greatest sense of openness possible so you know what influences are at work on any individual on whatever political or any other decisions they make."

He added: "I think we need to consider how far it goes, how far it goes to other people involved in public life. I mean, you are involved in public life for example as a very important commentator on the BBC, as indeed many others are. I think we need to know what influences at work on them are."

On all MPs publishing their tax returns, Mr Corbyn said: "There has to be trust in people in public office. You have to know what they are earning, where it comes from and what influences come as a result of that.

"So if, for example you have a lot of money in an overseas trust and that isn't revealed to the public then if you start lobbying not to open up the accounts of overseas trusts then it begins to look more than a little odd. So I think we have to have an openness in the transparency about it."

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell suggested he was less firm on the idea of people other than MPs publishing their tax returns. 

Speaking to Radio 5Live's Pienaar's politics, he said: "Beyond politicians I think there's a wider debate to be had and I think we should have that debate and see what people think about that."

TAX HAVENS

Mr Corbyn also called for a tougher crack down on British overseas territories being used as tax havens by the super-rich.

"The steps have to be that if you are crown dependent territories or Channel Islands, Isle of Man, Caribbean dependent territories - all of those, all of them operate a low tax or nil tax environment, all of them enjoy security and protection provided by the UK, all of them are dependent territories, all have some form of self-governance.

"I think we have got to be very clear about this – we want openness on who owns those companies, openness on the trusts, and we want a tax regime that is reasonable so that they all pay some kind of contribution.

"There has to be a chasing down of this principle that seems to operate amongst the super rich in the world that somehow or other tax is for somebody else, not for them."

he added: "There is a moral case. If you earn money, you pay tax. If you earn a lot of money you pay more tax. Non payment of tax means under-funding of public services as a whole."