Zac Goldsmith’s non-dom tax status: your LDV reader

Plenty of coverage – both in the national media and on Lib Dem blogs – of the Sunday Times’ revelations that multimillionaire Tory candidate for Richmond Park Zac Goldsmith has ‘non-dom’ status to avoid paying tax in the UK on any of his offshore wealth.

Here’s what Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay, Lib Dem Treasury spokesman, said:

He’s not fit to sit in Parliament when he’s claimed non-dom status all his life to keep his offshore hundreds of millions free of income, capital gains or inheritance tax.”

Here’s a round-up of some of the news coverage:

I thought this was a telling comment from Ben Brogan in one of the Torygraph articles linked to, above:

It would be nice to think that grassroots Tories can summon up as much indignation about those who keep their wealth out of the taxman’s reach as they do about the behaviour of women candidates.

Indeed.

The BBC’s Andrew Neil links the Tories’ latest embarrassment to the way in which last week’s PMQs attack by David Cameron – focusing on alleged Islamist influence in schools receiving public funding – unravelled owing to some basic errors in the party’s research, and asks: “Are the Tories becoming just a tad accident prone and overly nervous?”

Finally, here’s a list of Lib Dem bloggers who’ve covered the revelations about Mr Goldsmith:

Please do add any links which I’ve missed, or published subsequent to this post.

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17 Comments

  • I had written off Richmond because of the mansion tax, but now it seems that Susan Kramer is favourite again.

    Not to mention the contamination to the Conservatives’ national campaign.

    Excellent.

  • Martin Land 30th Nov '09 - 1:41pm

    You mean there is a leading Tory who believes that the normal rules of civilised society don’t apply to them? Gosh! How shocking!

  • I haven’t had time to look at all the stories about Goldsmith so this has probably already been commented upon, but when was he actually selected to contest Richmond?

  • Stanley Theed 30th Nov '09 - 8:53pm

    Can we look forward to David Cameron calling a press conference taking the same stance as Iain Dale to Zac Goldsmith’s non-dom status? I do hope so.

  • OK, now I’ve had time to find out that he was selected in March 2007 and he would therefore have fought the October 2007 General Election if Gordon Brown had not resiled from it at the last moment. Why did Goldsmith not renounce his non dom status in advance of that election? Did he gamble that there wouldn’t be an election and that he could carry on avoiding tax for another two or three years? Did he think that no one would find out what his status was? Did he believe, in the days before the parliamentary expenses scandals, that his electors wouldn’t care that his accountancy arrangements were designed to avoid paying tax? Was the fact that he was not on the electoral register in 2008 linked to his non dom status?

  • I posted this on another posting of Zac Goldsmith, and I feel that is Susan Kramer who should say sorry.

    It was the weekend’s edition of the Sunday Times which suggested that Zac Goldsmith, the Conservative candidate for Richmond Park, was non-domiciled for tax purposes. However, the man himself insists that the article was wrong in many of its assertions and yesterday sent the following message to local activists in the Richmond Park constituency in which he is standing, to explain that he has not in fact been a “non-dom” since April:

    “The Sunday Times (29th November) ran a misleading article about my tax status which included outlandish remarks by the Liberal Democrat Lord Oakeshott. This gave rise to further Press coverage on the 30th November.

    Although I have answered the questions put to me by the media, without hesitation, I wanted to write to you personally to explain the situation. Firstly, for Lord Oakeshott to suggest that I have dodged any tax and to claim that I owe millions to the British taxman is wrong and defamatory. Equally fallacious is his suggestion that I keep money offshore “free of income tax, inheritance tax and capital gains tax”.

    I have never made any secret of my family’s background. My father created an international trust designed to provide his children with income. They, and I do not have access to the capital. However, virtually everything I do is in the UK, and therefore the vast majority of my income comes to the UK, where I pay the full rate of tax on it. I do not derive any benefits as far as either capital gains tax or inheritance is concerned since I am registered for the latter in the UK. My family has use of two homes that are owned by that trust. Despite what has been said, we do not live in them for free. I am subject to Capital Gains tax on the benefits I enjoy from using these properties.

    My non-domicile status is a reflection of my father’s international status, but despite this, I have always chosen of my own volition to be tax resident in the UK. The Sunday Times article states that I “stand to lose huge sums by changing [my] tax status”. That is wrong. For me, the ‘non-dom’ status offers very few benefits. Before the newspaper had even made contact, I had already instructed my advisors to end it as of April 6th 2009. I am therefore no longer ‘non-dom’.

    If there are any savings at all, they are massively exceeded by the fact that a very large proportion of my post-tax income goes towards supporting charitable and environmental causes that I believe in.

    I do not believe family wealth accords any entitlement whatsoever in democratic politics. But nor do I believe it should be a barrier to my continuing to work for the things we all believe in.

  • Sorry, but I think a lot of Goldsmith’s statement above is self-serving twaddle. For example, “I have never made any secret of my family’s background” – he’d have had a job to do that wouldn’t he? With regard to the two homes that the trust allows his family to use, “we do not live in them free. I am subject to Capital Gains Tax on the benefits I enjoy from using these properties”. Sorry, I’m no tax expert, but just how does that work? I would have thought that if you have income from a trust then that would be subject to income tax rather than capital gains tax, and that rent free accomodation would be classed as a benefit in kind and taxed as if it were income. “My non-domicile status is a reflection of my father’s international status” – no it isn’t, it’s a choice he has made, and he has now chosen (apparently before being exposed by the Sunday Times) to change that status. His assertion that a large proportion of his post tax income goes towards supporting charitable and environmental causes he believes in is entirely irrelevant. There is one way that Mr Goldsmith could clear all this up and that is by being completely transparent about his financial affairs so that his electors could make their own judgement about how straightforward he is. I somehow doubt that he will do that.

  • I’ve just noticed the smoke and mirrors about the non-dom status since 6th April 2009. “I had already instructed my advisors to end it as of April 6th 2009. I am therefore no longer ‘non-dom'”. What this means is that his accountants will be going to the Inland Revenue when they prepare the current year’s accounts and telling them that from April 6th this year their client wishes to be regarded as a non-dom. So, what he is saying is not untrue as such, but it is certainly spin worthy of Lord Mandelson.

  • Mary,

    I suggest that you get your facts right. I did in fact post the comment on your blog, but I am NOT ‘David’, I did not post the above and I am not hiding behind anonymity.

    “What he apparently can’t explain was why the Tories in Richmond Park thought it appropriate to select a non-dom candidate and then allow him to keep that status for at least two years.”

    As has now been stated, the local Conservative party (of which I am not a member) did not know that Zac had non-dom status.

    http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23779530-goldsmith-i-did-not-tell-of-my-non-dom-status.d

  • Mary

    “What he apparently can’t explain was why the Tories in Richmond Park thought it appropriate to select a non-dom candidate and then allow him to keep that status for at least two years.”

    I have just checked your blog again and notice that you don’t actually ask that question, or in fact any other question. All that you say after my posting of Zac’s statement is:

    Submitted by Mary Reid on Tuesday, December 1, 2009.
    Hmm.. some contradictions here. Rather than quote the Guardian, Independent, Times, I’ll draw your attention to the Conservative-supporting Daily Mail today:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1231847/Zac-Goldsmith-Calls-Davi

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