Rishi Sunaks US green card and wifes non-dom status explained

Former Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak has won the Conservative leadership contest following Liz Truss' resignation as Prime Minister.

He announced that he would be a candidate in the latest Tory leadership contest shortly after Ms Truss confirmed that she would be resigning from her role just 44 days after she won the last leadership campaign.

In the last leadership contest, which concluded on September 5, Mr Sunak and Ms Truss battled it out for the role as PM after Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt was voted out of the race.

As the latest contest comes to an end after just four days, Mr Sunak has become the next PM as he reached over 100 backers by 2pm, with Ms Mordaunt losing the competition for a second time.

However, the new Prime Minister could now have to address the skeletons in his closet surrounding his green card and wife's non-dom status. Here's everything you need to know.

Did Rishi Sunak have a US green card?

Mr Sunak admitted earlier this year that he had a US green card for more than a year while he was Chancellor.

His spokesperson confirmed that Mr Sunak held the document, which allows people to live and work in America, until his first trip to the US in a Government capacity in October 2021.

Mr Sunak became Chancellor in February 2020 and it is understood he gave up the green card in advance of his US trip, possibly in August 2021, which is six years after he became an MP for Richmond, North Yorkshire.

Holders of green cards are required to pay US tax on their worldwide income – and it carries an obligation to make America your permanent home.

Mr Sunak and his wife, Akshata Murthy, met at Stanford University and the pair lived in the US previously.

According to reports, they are also understood to own a holiday home in Santa Monica, California.

His spokeswoman at the time 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."

Mr Sunak resigned from his role as Chancellor in July, shortly before Boris Johnson resigned as Prime Minister.

What is non-dom status?

The term 'non-dom' made headlines back in April this year after it emerged Mr Sunak's wife does not pay taxes on her profits abroad as she has 'non-dom status.'

If you have this status, you only have to pay tax on earnings made in the UK and you don’t have to pay any tax to the UK on money made elsewhere in the world (unless they pay that money into a UK bank account).

For a businessman or woman, it means you can make some substantial savings by choosing to be registered in a country with a low tax rate.

It’s not granted automatically; a resident needs to apply. The status also carries the implication that their stay in Britain is not permanent.

You can gain non-dom status in two ways:

  • Domicile of origin – if you were born in a different country from the UK, or if your father came from a different country
  • Domicile of choice – if you are over 16 and choose to leave the UK and live indefinitely in another country.

Ms Murty's status as a non-dom rests on the fact that her billionaire father Narayna Murthy is Indian, and she was born and grew up in India.

Although she is a fashion designer by profession, she reportedly owns a little under 1% of Infosys, the giant Indian IT-services company founded by her father—a stake worth around £710million.

What is Rishi Sunak's net worth?

Earlier this year, the Sunak family found themselves at number 222 on the Sunday Times rankings of Britain’s 1,000 richest people.

According to the list, the pair have a joint £730million fortune thanks to Ms Murthy's stake in IT giant Infosys and Mr Sunak's former role as Chancellor.

Mr Sunak also worked as a banker for Goldman Sachs and as a partner at a hedge fund firm.

The couple own multiple luxury properties across the world, including a Kensington mews house, a west London flat, a manor house in Yorkshire, and the penthouse in California.

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