A UKIP politician representing South Yorkshire in the European Parliament has claimed service personnel deployed to Afghanistan are given two weeks’ leave during their tour of duty to ensure they have to pay income tax.
Godfrey Bloom, MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber, said the purpose of the ‘R&R’ break during troops’ six-month tours, was not for their welfare but to ensure they did not become UK ‘non domiciles’ – which would mean they do not qualify as taxpayers.
His claim was dismissed as ‘nonsense’ by officials from the Ministry of Defence.
Mr Bloom said: “I am appalled to learn that soldiers risking life and limb in Afghanistan are being brought home for short breaks, not for their welfare, but to ensure they are liable to pay income tax.
“Apparently, if they serve a continuous period of six months abroad they are then classed as a ‘non dom’ and do not have to pay income tax on their meagre incomes.
“I know we are living in difficult financial times but the revenue so generated is minute in the overall scheme of things for the government but means a lot to the individual soldiers.
“This sharp practice is unfair on our troops serving in war zones and should be stopped immediately.”
But one Sheffield soldier, who did not wish to be named, said: “The R&R break is important because when you are out on deployment you are at work 20 hours a day, seven days a week.
An MoD spokeswoman said: “This is nonsense. All service personnel serving tours in Afghanistan of six months or longer receive two weeks, mid-tour leave to rest and recharge their batteries and spend time with their loved ones. It is not the case rest time is due to tax rules.”