© 2024 WUTC
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

London Mayor Boris Johnson Settles U.S. Tax Bill Ahead Of Visit

London Mayor Boris Johnson rides a bicycle on Dec. 1 during a city tour in downtown Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Vincent Thian
London Mayor Boris Johnson rides a bicycle on Dec. 1 during a city tour in downtown Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Late last year, London Mayor Boris Johnson said he owed money to the IRS — but wasn't going to pay it.

Johnson, who holds dual U.S.-U.K. citizenship by virtue of having been born in New York, owed capital gains tax from the sale of his first house in the U.K. — a sum that is not taxable in the U.K.

"They're trying to hit me with some bill, can you believe it?" he said on WAMU's Diane Rehm Show last November, calling it "outrageous."

When guest host Susan Page pressed him about whether he would pay the bill, Johnson said: "I'm — no, is the answer. I think it's absolutely outrageous. Why should I? I think, you know, I'm not a — I, you know, I haven't lived in the United States for, you know, well, since I was 5 years old."

Well, the London mayor has had a change of heart, The Financial Times reports, ahead of a visit next month to Boston, New York and Washington. Here's more:

"Mr Johnson has refused to say how much capital gains tax he owes the US from the sale of his first family home in north London, but his allies say it is 'nowhere near' the £100,000 estimated by some tax experts."

The newspaper used property sales records to estimate that Johnson faced a U.S. tax bill of about $44,000. Under U.S. law, citizens must pay the taxes on incomes above $97,600, even if that money is earned overseas. Johnson, as London mayor and as a columnist for The Telegraph, earns nearly $600,000 a year.

Paying the tax bill should allow Johnson to renounce his U.S. citizenship, which he has previously said is "very difficult to give up." But it also likely would save him from questions about the money he owed the IRS.

Johnson is sometimes mentioned as a contender to succeed British Prime Minister David Cameron as head of the ruling Conservatives should the party lose power at the next elections. This means that, at least in theory, he could become prime minister, a point at which he might have to renounce his U.S. citizenship. A spokesman for Johnson declined to tell the Times whether the London mayor would, in fact, do that.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Krishnadev Calamur is NPR's deputy Washington editor. In this role, he helps oversee planning of the Washington desk's news coverage. He also edits NPR's Supreme Court coverage. Previously, Calamur was an editor and staff writer at The Atlantic. This is his second stint at NPR, having previously worked on NPR's website from 2008-15. Calamur received an M.A. in journalism from the University of Missouri.