David Cameron and his wife Samantha are likely to save thousands of pounds as a result of George Osborne's decision to scrap the 50p tax rate for those earning more than £150,000 a year. An analysis of their earnings suggests the Camerons could gain up to £5,000 a year as a result.
At least five other Cabinet ministers may also benefit, along with the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson. And there were questions about the Chancellor's claim yesterday that he will not be affected by the new rate, now 45p.
On paper, Mr Osborne, pictured, would appear to earn rental income that would push him into the highest tax bracket. However, it is possible that, because the income was only declared in July, he is not paying the 50p rate yet – but would have had to do so if it had remained in place. But Mr Cameron and his family are clear winners. Although he earns £142,000 as Prime Minister (below the 50p threshold), Mr Cameron's salary is not his only income.
When he entered Downing Street Mr and Mrs Cameron rented out their £2.7m house in Notting Hill, west London. Estate agents have estimated that would net him around £50,000 to £70,000 a year. Taken with his £142,000 salary, that would give him a maximum income of £212,000, on which he would soon be paying 5 per cent less on £62,000 – a saving of around £3,000 a year.
Samantha Cameron may also benefit. Before the last election she was thought to be earning about £400,000 as creative director of Smythson, the stationers. Since the election, she has cut her commitments – but if she was earning half that amount she would still be saving about £2,500 thanks to the tax cut.
Downing Street sources last night would not confirm whether Mr Cameron was affected by the 50p tax rate. Aides were said to be "deeply concerned" by how Mr Cameron's tax affairs will look to the public.
The other big winner of the changes is Boris Johnson, who is up for re-election in May. He receives a salary of £140,000 as Mayor as well as £250,000 a year for his weekly column in the Daily Telegraph which he once memorably described as "chicken feed". He is likely to make a substantial tax saving – possibly as much as £10,000.
Another minister who could benefit is Jeremy Hunt, the Culture Secretary. Like other Cabinet ministers he receives a salary of £134,000 but he also declares a half-share of a holiday house in Italy, from which he gets rental income, and a half-share of an office building in Hammersmith, west London, which is also rented out.