Rishi Sunak admits holding a US green card for more than a year as chancellor

Rishi Sunak is under increased scrutiny. Credit: PA

Rishi Sunak has admitted holding a US green card for more than a year after becoming chancellor, confirming numerous reports.

A spokesperson for the chancellor said he immediately returned it after seeking guidance upon his first American trip in a government capacity in October 2021.

“All laws and rules have been followed and full taxes have been paid where required in the duration he held his green card," the spokesperson said.

By holding a green card Mr Sunak would have been required to pay taxes to America on his international earnings and have permanent resident status in the US.

There is no suggestion that the chancellor broke any rules by holding a green card or avoided paying any UK taxes, but the revelation is likely to anger those opposed to his tax rises.

He had also been coming under intense scrutiny after it emerged his wife Akshata Murty, estimated to be worth hundreds of millions of pounds, holds the non-dom status exempting her from paying tax in the UK on foreign income.

Ms Murty, however, says she will now pay tax in the UK on overseas earnings to avoid becoming a distraction for her husband.

His spokesperson said: “Under US law, you are not presumed to be a US resident just by dint of holding a green card. Furthermore, from a US Immigration perspective, it is presumed that permanent resident status is automatically abandoned after prolonged absences from the US.

"At the same time, one is required to file US tax returns. Rishi Sunak followed all guidance and continued to file US tax returns, but specifically as a non-resident, in full compliance with the law.

“As required under US law and as advised, he continued to use his green card for travel purposes.

"Upon his first trip to the US in a government capacity as chancellor, he discussed the appropriate course of action with the US authorities. At that point it was considered best to return his green card, which he did immediately."

Mr Sunak was appointed chancellor in February 2020, meaning he held a US green card for a year and seven months.

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Boris Johnson told a Downing Street press conference that he was unaware of Mr Sunak holding a green card, but said he's "done absolutely everything he was required to do".

The prime minister also defended Mr Sunak over his wife's controversial non-domicile status which exempts her from paying UK tax on her international earnings.

It has been claimed Ms Murty - the daughter of a billionaire - could have saved millions in UK tax contributions with her non-dom status, which means she is not registered as a permanent UK resident.

The prime minister said people's families "should not be dragged into things", despite a clause in the ministerial code explicitly recognising that a partner's financial interests might be relevant to their job and should be declared.

The prime minister said: "I would just stress that the Chancellor Rishi is doing an absolutely outstanding job and as far as possible as I think I said yesterday, I don't think people's families should be should be dragged into this."