NICOLA Sturgeon has promised to publish seven years of tax returns filed while First Minister after failing to live up to a commitment she made in 2016.

Ms Sturgeon agreed to publication after being asked about her original promise at a Scottish Government press conference this morning.

She said she would publish the return for the most recent complete tax year (2021/22), and when pushed also agreed to publish all the other years.

Publication would put pressure on other political leaders to follow suit, although Ms Sturgeon has repeatedly promised her returns and then failed to issue them in the past.

Most recently, she told a show on the Edinburgh fringe in August that she was “more than happy to publish tax returns”, and then didn’t do it. 

It came as the First Minister said Nadhim Zahawi’s position as Tory party chair was “untenable” in light of him having to pay HMRC around £5m in unpaid taxes and penalties.

Rishi Sunak today ordered an investigation into whether Mr Zahawi broke the ministerial code with last year’s settlement, paid when he was chancellor.

The row centres on Gibraltar-based Balshore Investments, and whether Mr Zahawi used it to hold shares in the polling company YouGov, which he founded in 2000.

Ms Sturgeon first promised in April 2016 to release her tax returns each year after filing them, and began by releasing her return for 2014/15.

At the time, many senior politicians published tax returns after then Tory Prime Minister David Cameron was embroiled in a row over tax avoidance.

It followed the Panama Papers scandal, when millions of files dating back to the 1970s were leaked from the Panamanian legal and financial firm Mossack Fonseca, including details of an offshore fund set up by Mr Cameron’s father in 1982.

Ms Sturgeon’s return for 2014/15 showed that, minus pension contributions, she received a salary of £104,817, and paid £31,551 in income tax.

A statement issued by the SNP in 2016, and which is still on the party’s website, said Ms Sturgeon was “committed to publishing her tax return annually, when it is submitted, for as long as she is First Minister”. 

However she has failed to live up to that commitment every year since.

The Herald:

Reminded of her promise today, Ms Sturgeon offered no explanation other than having “had other things to deal with over recent years”.

She said: “You can judge this in whichever way you want. I've perhaps had other things to deal with over recent years . 

“You needn't necessarily take this on my word, but my salary as First Minister is my only income.

“So if any of you are getting excited about what you might see in my tax returns, I would caution you against it because there isn't anything in my tax returns other than my you know, publicly known salary.

“But that said, we're coming up to the end of this tax year, and when we pass the end of this tax year into February I will publish the tax return. 

“So that what I've just said there, you can see is absolutely the case.

“When I get the administrative side of that sorted, I will do that.”

Asked whether she would publish the other missing tax years, as well as the most recent one, Ms Sturgeon said: “I'll publish whatever you think you need to verify what I'm saying today is that my salary is my income. 

“So please don't be getting all excited about what's going to be in my tax returns. 

“You are going to be disappointed in that. 

“But I gave the commitment once I can do the administration around all of that I'll publish after the end of of this tax year.”

Ms Sturgeon’s total salary in 2021/22, which includes her wage as an MSP and a ministerial top-up which has been frozen since 2009, was £135,605.

Speaking about Mr Zahawi’s position, she went  on: “I think the former Chancellor's position is untenable. I think he should resign his current position as chair of the Conservative Party.

“It seems to be the case, and I'll be corrected if I'm wrong here, but I think this is no beyond any real question that while he was chancellor, he settle a seven figure tax bill with HMRC which included a very significant penalty. 

“Now that means, as far as I can see, that there must have been something untoward about his tax affairs to a very large tune in terms of the amount of money involved. 

“So I think somebody who is a government minister in that position, I just think their position is untenable. 

“So I would think he should resign his post and if he doesn't do so, rather than kicking it into the long grass and instructing an inquiry as the Prime Minister is done this morning, I think the Prime Minister should remove him from office.”