PRESSURE is growing on Conservative party chair, Nadhim Zahawi, after reports that he was forced to pay a penalty to HMRC over a million-pound tax bill. 

The former Chancellor has come under scrutiny in recent days after it emerged he agreed to pay millions to the tax agency in December.

Taxpayers can face penalties for late filing or late payment, or for errors on returns, payments and paperwork.

Last night Labour wrote to HMRC over Mr Zahawi’s tax affairs, arguing that the “public requires answers.”

There are questions over the use of an offshore company to hold shares in YouGov, the polling company he co-founded.

The minister, who has a personal fortune estimated at up to £100m, did not take any shares in YouGov, even though his co-founder was given just over 40%.

However, a similar size shareholding was allocated to Balshore Investments Ltd, based in Gibraltar.

YouGov's 2009 annual report said: "Balshore Investments Ltd is the family trust of Nadhim Zahawi, an executive director of YouGov PLC."

The Tory MP has insisted “he does not have, and never has had, an interest in Balshore Investments and he is not a beneficiary”.

By 2018, Balshore Investments Ltd had sold shares it had held in the company for a total of up to £27m.

According to tax lawyer, Dan Neidle, who has long been probing Mr Zahawi’s finances, the estimated tax due, if this had been liable to UK capital gains tax, would have been around £3.7m.

According to the Guardian, HMRC applied a 30% penalty bringing the total due to £4.8m. 

Combined with interest charges that HMRC also applies to taxes owed, this paper says Mr Zahawi’s final bill is believed to be more than £5m.

In her letter to HMRC, Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner said: “I understand that HMRC’s position is that you do not comment on the tax affairs of individuals.

“However, given the public interest in this case as well as the serious questions raised about a potential conflict of interest at the heart of government, the public require answers.

“In particular, there appears to be an element of special treatment directed towards Nadhim Zahawi by HMRC,” she claimed.

A spokesman for Mr Zahawi has said his taxes are “properly declared” and he “has never had to instruct any lawyers to deal with HMRC on his behalf”.

“As he has previously stated, Mr Zahawi’s taxes are properly declared and paid in the UK,” the spokesman said.

Earlier this week, the Prime Minister told the Commons that Mr Zahawi “has already addressed this matter in full and there’s nothing more that I can add”.