Mr Sunak yesterday admitted to holding the status, allowing permanent residence in the United States, for more than a year after he was made Chancellor – but US immigration rules suggest the status may conflict with holding office in the UK
Image: David Dyson)
Joe Biden’s White House has faced questions over Rishi Sunak’s US Green Card status.
Mr Sunak yesterday admitted to holding the status, allowing permanent residence in the United States, for more than a year after he was made Chancellor.
Green Card holders must pay tax in the United States.
And they must declare their intention to make the US their permanent home.
And last night, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked whether Mr Sunak had broken US immigration rules by holding on to the Green Card while serving in Government.
US State Department rules say a Green Card holder could be considered to have ‘abandoned’ their lawful permanent resident status over their “Conduct outside of the United States” – which includes “running for political office in a foreign country.”
But Mr Sunak did not surrender his Green Card until October last year – six years after he first ran for Parliament in 2014.
Asked why Mr Sunak’s US immigration status was not flagged earlier, Ms Psaki referred questions to the State Department and Department of Homeland Security.
“I don’t have any further comment from here,” she said.
And asked if President Biden saw it as a “problem” that it was possible for someone to serve in a “high level” government position while maintaining lawful permanent resident status in the US, she added: “I’ll see if there’s more we can provide you.”
Mr Sunak’s spokesperson yesterday confirmed the Chancellor had not received any Covid stimulus funding from the US Government as a result of his status as lawful permanent resident.
Green Card holders who registered less than $75,000 of annual income on their US Tax return were automatically sent three rounds of stimulus funding worth a total of $3,200 (£2,458), as part of a bid to keep the US economy moving during the pandemic.
The spokersperson told the Mirror Mr Sunak “did not get any kind of stimulus.”
Meanwhile, allies of the Chancellor have denied the non-dom status held by Mr Sunak’s wife Akshata Murty, was a “tax dodge”.
Kevin Hollinrake, the Tory MP for Thirsk and Malton in North Yorkshire, said both Conservative and Labour governments had used non-dom status to attract wealthy people to the country.
“This is not a tax dodge. It is a deliberate policy to attract wealthy people from other countries around the world to the UK on the basis that they create jobs and create wealth in the UK that benefits everybody,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
Akshata Murty announced on Friday that she would pay UK taxes on all her worldwide income as she did not want her financial arrangements to be a “distraction” for her husband.
But Labour said Mr Sunak and his family potentially saved tens of millions of pounds in taxes through his wife’s non-dom status.
Shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh said Mr Sunak had failed to be transparent about his family’s tax status at a time when he was raising taxes for millions of people.
“The Chancellor has not been transparent. He has come out on a number of occasions to try and muddy the waters around this and to obfuscate,” she told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“It is clear that was legal. I think the question many people will be asking is whether it was ethical and whether it was right that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whilst piling on 15 separate tax rises to the British public, was benefiting from a tax scheme that allowed his household to pay significantly less to the tune of potentially tens of millions of pounds less.”
Mr Hollinrake also defended Mr Sunak over his Green Card.
“He was working in the US at one point – to do that you need a green card to be able to do that – and then came to the UK and declared that position with the Cabinet Office,” he said.
“It doesn’t reduce his taxation in the UK at all. In fact with a green card you can often pay more tax. In terms of what was in Rishi’s mind at the time in terms of his status as a green card holder, you should probably sit down and ask Rishi that.”
Mr Sunak and Mrs Murty, who met at Stanford University, lived in the US previously and are understood to own a lavish penthouse apartment in Santa Monica, California.
His spokeswoman said: ” Rishi Sunak had a green card when he lived and worked in the US.
“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.
“All laws and rules have been followed and full taxes have been paid where required in the duration he held his green card.”