You can see David Cameron edging towards full disclosure of his cabinet’s tax returns while still holding back from a final decision. He says it’s “increasingly likely” and he is “relaxed” about the issue. (Although we report today that many of his colleagues now think it’s inevitable.)
It’s not hard to see why this isn’t straightforward. Labour are goading the prime minister to go ahead in a “you first” kind of way. But what would Cameron gain from full publication of all the cabinet’s tax returns?
The Catch-22 is this. There are many millionaires in the cabinet, as has been reported numerous times. Any reminder of this – during a time of public austerity – is not great for the coalition’s reputation.
If it turns out that several cabinet ministers are set to benefit from the 50p rate cut then it looks bad. If it transpires that certain ministers are not paying the highest income tax rate – despite their huge wealth – that does not look great either. It’s hard to see how the government benefits, beyond looking more credible on its commitment to transparency.
Tax statements only tell part of the story, of course. Here is a full list of cabinet earnings as disclosed to the House of Commons register of interests, which I have pulled together.
What this does not recognise is that many Tory MPs raked in huge amounts Read more