UK's Sunak considered resigning over tax criticism - Sunday Times

FILE PHOTO: British Chancellor of the Exchequer Sunak presents Spring Statement in London

LONDON (Reuters) - British finance minister Rishi Sunak considered whether he should resign this week after a storm of criticism over his wealthy wife's tax status, the Sunday Times newspaper reported.

"He was considering whether he could withstand his family taking this any more," the newspaper quoted an unidentified source as saying.

A source familiar with the situation told Reuters that Sunak did not consider resigning.

Sunak this week came under the most sustained pressure since he became finance minister in 2020 after his wife, Akshata Murty, confirmed that she had non-domiciled tax status, meaning she did not pay tax on earnings from outside the United Kingdom.

While the status was legal, critics said the arrangement was incompatible with Sunak's decision to raise taxes on workers and employers from April 6 at a time when high inflation is causing a cost-of-living squeeze for many households.

Murty is the daughter one of the founders of Indian IT giant Infosys and owns about 0.9% of the company -- entitling her to a dividend payment worth 11.6 million pounds ($15.12 million) last year.

Sunak said on Friday that questions over his wife's tax arrangements were politically motivated attempts to damage him.

A few hours later, Murty said she would start paying British tax on her foreign income.

The Sunday Times said some people close to Sunak - once considered a potential future prime minister - still thought he might walk away from politics.

Newspapers said Sunak's family had moved out of a government flat in Downing Street, which could add to the speculation about his future, although the reports also said the move had previously been planned to cut the distance to the school of one of his daughters.

The opposition Labour Party on Saturday called on Sunak to respond to claims in another newspaper report that he was listed as a beneficiary of offshore trusts linked to his wife's family business interests.

A spokesperson for Sunak said no one in the families of Murty or Sunak was aware of the alleged trusts.

On Friday, Sunak confirmed media reports that he only gave up a "green card" for the United States -- an immigration status intended for permanent U.S. residents -- after he became Britain's finance minister in 2020.

A spokesperson for Sunak said he had paid his taxes in full and not broken any laws or regulations.

(Writing by William Schomberg; Editing by Frances Kerry and Mike Harrison)