I was noted in the Guardian as saying yesterday, in the context of the publication of tax information by Andrea Leadsom:
This isn’t her tax return, it’s a tax computation. It’s a summary of numerical information but not an explanation of where it came from. It excludes all the information that might be of interest, so she has not published her tax return.
To be blunt, the claim that a tax return has been published when only a one page summary has been put on public record is a blatant misrepresentation of the truth.
A tax return would tell us all those who employed Andrea Leadsom and also provide the additional information appropriate only to MPs.
It would, if schedules were included, tell us the source of dividends and so indicate potential conflicts of interest.
It might do the same with charitable donations.
It might also provide information on what assets were sold to give rise to a capital gain.
Very importantly, it would discuss if any tax avoidance arrangements had been entered into.
And what are called the 'white space' disclosures would be on public record.
But we saw none of that.
So shall we stop the pretence that tax returns have been published?
I would not mind if it was made clear that a summary had been published; it's the misrepresentation I object to with the suggestion that the matter is closed when it clearly is not based on what has been published here.
Surely by now politicians should have realised that publishing extracts from the truth does not work? Apparently not, is all I can conclude.
And if a summary was desired that some simple notes would have made all the difference. As example:
- All earnings from employment arose from work as an MP
- The major dividends received came from X, Y and Z
- The main charities to which donations were made were A, B and C
- The capital gain arose on the disposal of X: disposal proceeds were £Y.
- No tax avoidance schemes had been entered into.
- No other disclosures were made.
We would then know a great deal more. As is it we are just dancing in the dark, as Bruce Springsteen might put it.