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The Mayoral tax ‘debate’.

April 10, 2012

from the Boris Johnson campaign HQ:

Ken courted some curious friends

The so-called tax debate of recent weeks must be kept in perspective.

Today, the national media are focusing on what disclosure means for the future direction of British politics and others are saying that it is a sideshow – just politicians spatting. These claims may serve Ken Livingstone’s purpose but they miss the point.

The real issue is not about someone’s income or even how much tax they pay in absolute terms.

Everyone has the right to be successful and to organise their tax affairs within the law.

The significance of this week’s debate over the candidates tax affairs is this:

  • It is about trust and hypocrisy.
  • It is about Ken Livingstone saying one thing and doing another.
  • It is about Ken saying in the Sun newspaper in 2009 that people who avoid paying their full share of tax are “rich bastards” who exploited “every tax fiddle” and who “should NOT be allowed to vote in a British election, let alone sit in Parliament, unless they pay their full share of tax.”

Now Ken has been forced to admit that for years he has employed exactly the same tax minimisation strategies himself. The most extreme of which were in place while he was standing for election, and indeed, whilst he was calling for the top rate of income tax to be raised to 80%.

When challenged previously about this, he responded by claiming his critics were out to ‘smear’ him.  

But now Mr Livingstone’s own figures show that by registering himself as a company, he has enabled the majority of his income to be earned at a lower rate of tax. 

Analysis suggests he has arranged his affairs to create an effective rate of tax that could be just 14.5%. The very same thing he attacks others for doing.

On Newsnight on Wednesday 4th April, Ken Livingstone agreed with all the main candidates to release all his income and tax details. The next day he first refused to honour that promise made on national TV. He then, when there was no other option and Boris Johnson had released all of his details, only released part details. Even these part details revealed that he had avoided tax by paying himself dividends rather than just a wage.

The public still cannot get a true picture of his finances but his hypocrisy is very clear. 

He owes Boris Johnson an apology for falsely claiming that Boris had the same financial arrangements as he did when he knew this was not so. 

And he owes the people of London an apology for saying on Newsnight that he would release full details on his earnings and tax, but not doing so.

Ken Livingstone has shown time and again that he says one thing but does another.

Now that he has been exposed for doing the very thing he strongly criticised others for doing, he has lost all credibility and anything else he says in this election simply cannot be trusted.

Once and for all Ken Livingstone has proven why he cannot be trusted to be back in charge of our great city.

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