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Tax row against Indian woman slashes UK minister’s chances of becoming PM


Rishi Sunak’s wife, Akshata Murthy, is the daughter of Infosys co-founder, Narayana Murthy.

New Delhi:

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, Britain’s finance minister, has been hit hard politically by the attack on his wife Akshata Murthy.

Akshata, daughter of Infosys co-founder Narayana Murthy, is targeted by the opposition for not paying taxes because she has non-domiciled tax status. She has now told the BBC she will start paying UK tax on “all worldwide income”.

There is no doubt that Sunak’s wife Akshata has done nothing wrong under UK law – she has the right not to pay certain UK taxes under UK law. Nevertheless, the finance minister’s wife, who earns tens of millions of dollars but pays no tax on much of it, creates a negative perception. It made headlines in Britain.

Tax row against Indian woman slashes UK minister’s chances of becoming PM

The British minister has accused his critics of launching a “smear” campaign against his wife.

Speaking ahead of his wife’s announcement, Sunak told The Sun that ‘it would not be reasonable or fair to ask her to sever ties with her country because she happens to be married to me’ .

“She loves her country. Like I love mine,” he said, adding that “every penny she earns in the UK she pays tax in the UK.”

In her statement announcing her decision to pay UK tax on overseas income, Akshata said she did not want her non-domiciled status to be a “distraction” for her husband.

She stressed that she was making the change “because I want to, not because the rules require me to”, adding that the new arrangements will start “immediately”.

Akshata Murty, 42, owns shares worth nearly $1 billion in Infosys, according to the company’s disclosure to the stock exchange. That makes her richer than Queen Elizabeth II, whose personal wealth is around 350 million pounds ($460 million), according to the 2021 Sunday Times Rich List.

The outcry against Rishi Sunak and Akshata Murty began after the UK government raised taxes amid a cost of living crisis. The opposition accused Sunak of “breathtaking hypocrisy” and targeted him over his wife’s non-domicile status which prevented him from paying UK tax on his overseas earnings.

The couple were also targeted when Infosys failed to close its offices in Moscow following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with Akshata accused of receiving ‘blood money’ in dividends. Subsequently, the tech giant decided to close its office in Russia.

In politics, perception matters – and Sunak’s chances of becoming prime minister have taken a hit – and that is clearly reflected in the UK betting market.

Tax row against Indian woman slashes UK minister’s chances of becoming PM

Sunak was the clear favorite to be Britain’s next prime minister – a month ago he had a 35% chance of becoming the next prime minister, an odds 3 times higher than the next candidate. Now, after his wife’s tax controversy, Sunak’s chances of becoming the next prime minister have dropped to just 12% – a dive to just 1/3 of what it was before.

But the story is not over yet. Watch this place.

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