Osborne 'very happy' to publish politicians' tax returns

The Chancellor George Osborne Credit: David Jones/PA Wire

George Osborne has said that he would be "very happy" if the Government were to consider publishing the personal tax returns of top politicians.

In an interview with The Telegraph he said: "We are very happy to consider publishing tax returns for people seeking the highest offices in the land. Of course, they do it in America."

In the US, all top politicians are expected to reveal their personal tax details in the interests of transparency.

The Business Secretary Vince Cable agreed with the idea: "I'm quite happy to be open about it. I have no problem with my tax return being published while I am in Government."

The debate was prompted by a heated on-air debate between two candidates for the London mayoral election, Boris Johnson and Ken Livingstone.

They accused each other of avoiding income tax by channelling earnings through offshore companies.

A full list of the mayoral candidates can be found here.

It would reinforce the tendency of elections to be about individuals and their personal lives rather than about public policy and what they will do for the electors...Will it put goood potential candidates off because they have been successful in the past and have no wish to share all the details of their business and personal finances with everyone else?

Mr Osborne's suggestion is likely to prove highly controversial.

John Redwood MP, Chairman of the Conservative Economic Affairs Committee, has opposed the idea arguing that it would lead to a focus on politician's personalities rather than policies, and discourage some candidates from entering politics.

Mr Osborne has come under pressure to reveal whether he would personally benefit from lowering the highest tax rate from 50p to 45p in the last Budget.