No one has noticed, but there is a huge piece of green card holder-taxpayer news out there, and it all came to light as a very indirect consequence of Boris Johnson’s resignation as leader of the UK’s Conservative Party.
It deals with one of the richest women in the world – Akshata Murty, the spouse of Rishi Sunak, the newly-resigned British Chancellor of the Exchequer and a leading candidate to succeed Boris Johnson. Ms. Murty is also the daughter of NT Narayana Murty, the chairman of the board of Infosys, a major global IT services firm, one that employs large numbers of H-1B workers in this country.
How much is she worth?, asks the Scotsman, the Edinburgh daily. They do not have a total but they know she owns, among other things, 0.91 percent of Infosys, a stake worth half a billion dollars. Murty’s wealth and the taxation thereon has proved to be an obstacle to her husband’s political prospects because she is a native of Kenya, and has used her non-domicile status in the UK to avoid paying the UK’s steep income taxes.
Why bring this up on a site devoted to U.S. immigration issues?
The reason is that she has been for years, as has her husband, a holder of an American green card, and green card holders are supposed, just like U.S. citizens, to pay taxes on their world-wide income. So she has either paid massive sums to the U.S. Treasury or she owes our government a whole lot of money.
No one, to my knowledge, has raised this point. It is a good question, particularly considering: 1) the controversial nature of Infosys in the U.S. labor market, depriving tens of thousands of resident workers American jobs; 2) her avoidance, so far, of British taxes; and 3) her husband’s political prospects.
Some things are known about the couple’s immigration and tax status, and some things are not. Let’s start with the known.
Known. He’s a native-born British subject, born in 1980 in Southampton to reasonably prosperous Indian immigrants. They had enough money to send him, without a scholarship, to Winchester, an Eton-like prep school (the misleading British term for it is a “public school”). He did well there, leaving as head boy. He did equally well at Oxford, graduating with a first in 2001, no minor achievement.
He worked for Goldman Sachs between 2001 and 2004. He got a Fulbright Scholarship (winning in a stiff competition) and used it to secure an MBA from Stanford in 2006. That is where he met his wife; they were married in 2009. He was first elected to the House of Commons from an ultra-safe Conservative district in 2015, succeeding a former party leader William Hague. Somewhere along the way he secured an American green card, as did his wife; he gave it up in 2020, a number of months after he became Chancellor of the Exchequer.
We know that neither of them could have secured a green card through the family preferences. We also know that he has said that he had met his U.S. tax obligations.
Not known. We (or at least I) do not know when he secured the green card or how, but have some ideas about that. I assume, but do not know, that she got her green card as Sunak’s wife, though the reverse could be true. We also do not know if she still has her green card.
The two most likely scenarios as to his obtaining permanent resident status (i.e., that of a green card holder) are these:
- He could have come to the U.S. as an L-1 international executive as an employee of Goldman Sachs and after a few years converted that nonimmigrant status to that of an EB-1 (employment-based) immigrant; or
- He could have secured an EB-2 visa on the grounds that either had an advanced degree (the Stanford MBA) or that he had five years of progressive post-BA experience (after Oxford) in his specialty.
Alternatively, but less likely, one or the other of them could have secured, as did Melanie Trump, an EB-1 visa on the grounds of their “extraordinary abilities”. Another possibility, although there is nothing I have seen that would suggest it, is that the EB-5 immigrant investor program could have been used to obtain the card for one or both of them.
When an alien is rich, successful, and well-connected there are a variety of ways to secure admission to the U.S., particularly if the individual is not a Chinese or an Indian citizen (due to the long waiting lists caused by the per-country caps).
The most intriguing part of this mystery is how Mrs. Sunak handled her tax obligations in the years that she held a green card. Did she pay the U.S., as she did not pay the U.K., on her world-wide income? The figure would be huge if she did. (She has, in the last few days, said she would do something about her UK tax situation.)
If she did not pay her U.S. bills will IRS go after her? That would certainly be unlikely in the next few months when the target’s husband may become the leader of America’s most trustworthy ally.
We may never know, about either the sources of the green cards, or her U.S. tax situation, but I will keep my readers informed if there are any developments.