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SInn Fein's McGuinness reveals he paid £37,143 in tax on salary

By Noel McAdam

Published 13/04/2016

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness
Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness

Martin McGuinness paid more than £37,000 in tax last year, the latest personal disclosures arising from the Panama Papers scandal have shown.

The Deputy First Minister earned £111,600 for the 2014/15 year and paid tax totalling £37,143, according to his official return released yesterday.

The document also revealed the senior Sinn Fein man was paid £61,900 in benefits and expenses.

In a move that his party called "unprecedented", he had already published bank statements when he ran in the Irish Presidential election in 2011.

"(Mr) McGuinness' Assembly income is taxed at source under PAYE. He takes home an average wage and donates the balance to the party," a statement added.

The rush of party leaders to publish their personal details revealed Justice Minister David Ford claimed £200 for heat and light and use of the home telephone for Assembly and ministerial duties. The Alliance chief was paid a salary of £86,000, but his papers did not reveal how much tax he contributed.

Mr Ford donated £2,200 to charity under the gift aid scheme. He also recorded £59,802 in office cost expenditures.

He said his income derived solely from his work as an MLA and minister, along with a "small amount" of interest from a building society savings account, minus interest on the mortgage on a small family farm.

The revelations from the controversy stirred by the leaking of the so-called Panama Papers ensnared Prime Minister David Cameron last week, resulting in him becoming the first politician to take the radical step of publishing his tax returns.

First Minister Arlene Foster then revealed she would do the same, and other politicians have since followed.

It also emerged yesterday that SDLP leader Colum Eastwood overpaid the Student Loans Company for money borrowed 15 years ago and is due a refund of £700, which he is to put towards fighting the Assembly election.

His tax details showed that more than £2,000 was taken out of his Assembly salary for student loan repayments in relation to his time at the University of Liverpool in 2001.

The SDLP leader, who paid £6,231 tax on his Assembly salary of £41,168, was told the money would now be repaid into his account.

As a steady trickle of tax returns from political leaders threatened to become a flood, it emerged the leaders of two of the Assembly's smaller parties have used part of their own salaries to pay for their party operations.

TUV boss Jim Allister gave more than £4,000 to make up staff costs in his constituency offices.

His move came after an increase in MLAs' salaries was counter-balanced with a cut in office cost allowances.

Mr Allister said the allowance of almost £69,000 in office expenditure was insufficient to meet his full staff costs.

And Green leader Steven Agnew also donated £5,224 from his own salary of £47,000 to his party.

In 2011 an 11% increase in MLA salaries was financed by a decrease in office costs, which an independent financial review panel said should be slashed by 3% per year by 2014.

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