By Tanya Harrington
Last Sunday, Jeremy Corbyn released his full tax return for the year 2015-16. Much like many of the Labour leader’s actions as of late, the release, which came in the form of several images uploaded to his website, was met with intense scrutiny.
Firstly, there appeared to be trouble with the press release about the event.
In one article, Business Insider claimed not to have received a press release, and mentioned that other media outlets were experiencing the same confusion.
Once access had been gained to the full tax returns, critics were quick to note that Corbyn’s salary for his positions as Labour party leader and leader of the opposition appeared to be missing, raising speculation of a “bungled” or falsified tax return, and implying that the Labour leader could have underpaid his taxes for the year.
Even an aide for Corbyn told The Guardian “it did not look quite right,” and stated that the issue would be raised with the accountants responsible.
In an attempt to rectify the situation, the Labour party published a statement noting that, for an as of yet unknown reason, Corbyn’s allowance as leader of the Labour party was published under “pensions and benefits” income on the tax return.
A Labour spokesperson also told reporters that “the extra payment following Jeremy’s election as Labour leader of £27,192 is recorded in the tax return under the heading of ‘public office’.”
However, the damage was already done. A show of transparency which may have been applauded after Chancellor Philip Hammond’s announcement that he would not be publishing his own tax returns ended up inviting more speculation regarding the integrity of the Labour leader, and effectively diverted all media attention from Hammond’s statement.
Corbyn’s spokeswoman accused “media organisations” of making false claims without evidence, but the fact remains that if the tax return had been more clearly laid out, this media reaction may not have taken place.