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Tax Evasion by MPs

Nadhim Zahawi paid back £3 million in evaded taxes in the last week.
Picture of Nadhim Zahawi from Wikipedia

I’m going to say something that might be deemed controversial by some (though hopefully not many) – MPs shouldn’t commit tax evasion! I know, I know, a radical suggestion that those elected to represent the country should be happy to pay the country what they owe in taxes. The news this week that Nadhim Zahawi, current Chair of the Conservative Party and former Chancellor of the Exchequer, has agreed to pay up an amount that he (may have) evaded summing to around £3 million is frankly outrageous. So how should we respond to alleged tax evasion by MPs?

In my view, this is yet another area that needs significant reform. It’s lower down my priority list than some other matters, but this seems like an easy thing to fix, so perhaps it will end up being higher on the agenda.

What Happened?

This story has really blown up in the last month, but it has been brewing for a long time. In essence, Nadhim Zahawi set up YouGov, and information-gathering firm. So far so good.

Where it goes wrong is that he deliberately created this in an offshore vehicle, owned in large part by his parents. While the exact technicalities of this are beyond me and well into the realm of tax professional, the exact structuring has been analysed by Dan Neidle at Tax Policy Associates for several months. Worth a read here. Dan and I definitely don’t see eye to eye on all matters of tax, but on this we are without question united in our rage.

Dan Niedle analysed Zahawi's tax evasion.

Dan Niedle of Tax Policy Associates, probably Nadhim Zahawi’s worst nightmare at the moment.

Importantly, that’s not where this ends. Zahawi clearly didn’t like this analysis, so he challenged it. Not just by disagreeing with the analysis, but by instructing solicitors Osborne Clarke to essentially threaten legal action against Dan Niedle. Dan being a former partner at a very successful London law firm was not the ideal target for such a threat, and he responded wonderfully. Again, the whole saga is worth a read, but the long and short of it is that Osborne Clarke ended up not pursuing a claim against Dan, and were in turn reported to the Solicitors Regulation Authority for abuse of the legal system.

End Result

So how does this saga end? We have someone allegedly evading taxes of £3 million and only coughing up after months of analysis and questions from a very well-qualified outsider. His agreement to repay the taxes shows clearly that this amount should have been paid in the first place, and as such this looks like evasion rather than avoidance – the latter being legal use of things like ISAs and pensions, which HMRC would have no claim over.

Given this is – apparently – tax evasion by a former Chancellor of the Exchequer and the current Chairman of the Conservative Party, what should we expect to happen?

My prediction is “nothing at all”.

The Conservative Party has displayed very little interest in punishing tax evaders of a certain level of wealth. It seems that once you get above a certain level of wealth, you get carte blanche to behave however you like, with barely even a slap on the wrist if you get caught. In this case, paying back the tax that should have been paid in the first place is nowhere near enough. This is a man who served as the Chancellor and before that called for the tightening of tax loopholes under the former Labour government. He clearly knew exactly what he was doing and chose to deny millions of owed tax to the UK regardless.

Whether you support conservative principles or not, this sort of behaviour should not go unpunished. Zahawi should have to pay back considerably more than the tax he underpaid, and should right now be facing criminal charges to analyse whether his behaviour was egregious enough to warrant jail time.

At the very least, he should no longer be allowed to serve as an MP.

Hazeena A

Ian, thank you once again for your support. It means a lot.

Thank you so much for [creating this petition] and so amazingly quickly!!!

You did a brilliant job on both the blog and petition. Some of the NHS staff were even impressed with the speed at which you addressed this, and I have had varying positive comments from friends who have read your post.

Hazeena A – Ruislip, Northwood & Pinner Resident

Sheena Y

Having worked with Ian I can say that I found him incredibly transparent and honest which I think would be rare and much needed in today political arena. He is also very clever, direct and a great communicator.

Sheena Y, former co-worker

Andy H

Ian is a very smart individual, but more importantly is honest and truly cares about people.

He is an unselfish individual and would absolutely have the public’s best interests at heart.

Andy H, brother

Luca M

I met Ian a few months ago for the first time and straight away I felt confortable with him and I thought: ” Ok I would trust that guy”.

Luca M, fellow speakers’ club member

Francisco V

Throughout the 12 years I have known Ian, he has always demonstrated to be very bright, kind and upright. I’ve seen all of these attributes in his personal life, for instance, in our sport association he volunteered as treasurer where he improved the overall system and costs as well as championing charitable giving & generous donations. He’ll definitely make a difference in a bigger role in politics.

Francisco V, fellow jū jūtsu instructor and friend

Irene H

You have the moral integrity and high standards in all aspects of the requirements of your potential constituents. You will stand up to injustice and defend those deemed to have had injustice against them. You are committed to environmental change and to look after the less well off in society.

Irene H, mother

Graham C

First and foremost, your personal ethos of kindness and care for others is your top qualification. That you are also highly driven with a need to be productive, and understand very complex matters such as financial systems, makes you stand out.

Graham C, fellow jū jūtsu instructor and friend


You are one of the most principled people that I know. You are committed to making changes that support the most vulnerable in our society and you don’t give up when you know you’re fighting for what’s right.


Helen C

Unlike the rest of us who are disillusioned with the lack of honesty, morals, and the unfair and outdated ‘public schoolboy network’ displayed by this government, you have decided to stand up and make a difference.
Your constituents couldn’t have a better candidate.

Helen C, Aunt

Miles H

Having known Ian for a number of years during which we worked closely as Financial Advisers, I am confident that he would make an excellent MP. Ian is an intelligent man who has the ability to absorb, understand and manage complex information quickly; I have, on many occasions, witnessed him do this whilst retaining the ability to explain it, in a manner which is easy to understand.

I have seen Ian display the courage of his convictions on a professional level, where he has put the clients needs before that of the company and have no doubt he would carry this attitude into public life.

Ian and I have disagreed on politics in the past, but he has always listened carefully to any position and taken time to offer a thoughtful response. If he became an MP I am sure his constituents would benefit from an effective and hard working representative.

Miles H, former co-worker

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