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Osborne backs tax transparency for UK politicians

April 7, 2012
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LONDON—Britain's finance minister says he is open to the idea of publishing the tax returns of government ministers, so long as confidentiality issues are properly addressed.

George Osborne told the Daily Telegraph newspaper he would be "very happy" for the government to consider the move.

"My personal principle has been to make the rules in general more transparent," he said in an interview published Saturday. "We are happy to consider publishing tax returns for people seeking the highest offices. Of course, they do it in America."

Osborne stressed, however, that issues of taxpayer confidentiality must be considered before such returns are made available to the public.

The finance minister echoed Business Secretary Vince Cable's remarks that he was prepared to be open about his personal finances, telling the Telegraph he would have "no problem" seeing his own tax return published.

Osborne's comments come after a bitter public dispute in the London mayoral campaign over candidates' tax payments.

Leading contenders Boris Johnson and Ken Livingstone have fielded accusations of avoiding income tax by channelling earnings through companies. Both Johnson and Livingstone have now revealed their tax records, along with two other candidates.

Osborne recently came under fire for announcing plans to cut the top income tax rate from 50 percent to 40 percent and phase out age-related allowances -- a move that's been denounced as a "granny tax" to pay for tax cuts for the rich.

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