LONDON: The UK Opposition has questioned the non-domicile tax status of India-born Akshata Murty, daughter of Infosys co-founder Narayana Murthy, and demanded an urgent explanation from her husband -- UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak.
A non-domicile status means Akshata Murty, who owns shares in Infosys, is not legally bound to pay tax in the UK on income earned overseas. She has thereby avoided paying millions of pounds.
Akshata, whose father is one of India’s richest men, is facing scrutiny after it emerged she has kept the non-domicile status despite living in 11 Downing Street with the Chancellor and their children.
A spokesperson for Murthy, 42, who is a director at venture capital firm Catamaran UK, said the non-domicile status is because India does not recognise dual nationality. It means she is not liable for tax on overseas earnings, including dividends from her father's company that reportedly came to £11.6million last year.
A spokeswoman for Ms Murthy pointed out she is an Indian citizen and stressed she pays UK taxes on UK income. There is no suggestion any laws or rules have been broken.
"Akshata Murty is a citizen of India, the country of her birth and parent's home," the spokesperson said. "India does not allow its citizens to hold the citizenship of another country simultaneously. So, according to British law, Ms Murthy is treated as non-domiciled for UK tax purposes. She has always and will continue to pay UK taxes on all her UK income," the spokesperson added.
The details of Murty's tax status first emerged in 'The Independent' newspaper on Wednesday, just as new taxes announced by Sunak come into force for the new financial year.
"The Chancellor has imposed tax hike after tax hike on the British people. It is staggering that - at the same time - his family may have been benefitting from tax reduction schemes," said Tulip Siddiq, Labour's shadow economic secretary to the Treasury.
"Rishi Sunak must urgently explain how much he and his family have saved on their own tax bill, even as he was imposing taxes on working families," said the British Bangladeshi minister.
The latest focus on Sunak's wife comes in the wake of attacks last month over Infosys presence in Moscow, even as the UK Chancellor imposed economic sanctions and called upon all UK businesses to end their Russian dealings over the conflict in Ukraine. In a BBC podcast last month, 41-year-old Sunka had spoken out about his anger at his wife and her father being targeted.
"It's very upsetting and, I think, wrong for people to try and come at my wife, and you know, beyond that actually, with regard to my father-in-law, for whom I have nothing but enormous pride and admiration for everything that he's achieved. And no amount of attempted smearing is going to make me change that because he's wonderful and has achieved a huge amount, as I said, I'm enormously proud of him," he said.