Sturgeon joins Scots leaders in publishing tax returns

image copyrightScottish Conservatives

Nicola Sturgeon has joined Scotland's other party leaders in publishing her tax returns amid calls for transparency over politicians' personal finances.

Prime Minister David Cameron published a summary of his taxes after criticism in the wake of the Panama tax leak.

Scottish Labour's Kezia Dugdale released her returns on Saturday, and was followed by Tory Ruth Davidson.

SNP leader Ms Sturgeon and Willie Rennie of the Lib Dems then published their documents the following day.

Minus pension contributions, which are not taxable, each opposition leader was paid more than £52,000 for their work as an MSP. Each paid about £10,000 in tax.

For her role as first minister, again minus pension contributions, Ms Sturgeon was paid more than £104,000, and paid £31,000 in tax.

'Palpable anger'

Ms Dugdale was the first of the Scottish party leaders to publish her returns, saying she had "nothing to hide".

The figures showed Ms Dugdale had paid £734.40 in tax for earnings from her Daily Record newspaper column despite donating the full annual fee of £5450 to the Motor Neuron Disease Scotland charity.

Ms Dugdale said: "There is an obligation on all of us who seek to serve the public to be transparent.

"Not since the MPs expenses scandal has there been such palpable anger at the sense of unfairness at the heart of our society.

"Politicians need to not only play by the rules, they need to be seen to be playing by the rules."

image captionMs Dugdale said there was an obligation on public servants to be transparent

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson, who published her returns shortly after Ms Dugdale, also made charitable donations from her income without claiming relief.

Ms Davidson has repeatedly defended Mr Cameron over his tax affairs, saying the prime minister has been "very clear" about his finances.

Scottish Lib Dem leader Mr Rennie, who published his returns on Sunday, noted: "Compared with certain other party leaders my tax returns are rather dull, but here they are anyway."

As Ms Sturgeon published her returns, the SNP said both she and her predecessor Alex Salmond had forgone more than £20,000 in pay since 2009 through a system which sees minister put money from their own pay packets towards public spending.

Ms Sturgeon said: "There should be a presumption that if you earn money in this country, you should pay tax on that in this country.

"I'm going to continue to argue very strongly for reform of tax avoidance."

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