In an October interview with the Mirror, Apprentice star Lord Allan Sugar states that it’s pretty simple. “Pay your tax, that’s it,” he said.
He also suggests that the reason why celebrities often seek a tax haven is because “they’re not businessmen. If they were proper businessmen, I would have no sympathy for them. If they’re performers, actors, this, that and the other, and getting loads of money coming in from what they do, and they go to an accountant and say: ‘What do I do?’, and the accountant says, ‘Well, I can save you a bit of tax’. I think they have then said, ‘Fair enough, so long as it’s legal – do it’.
“I think it was ignorance, not stupidity.”
Whatever reasons they may have had though, a few British celebrities have certainly one thing in common: they all only live in the UK for a certain amount of months during the year so that they aren’t liable for income tax.
Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton has recently been the brunt of a Twitter storm when it came to light that he was a UK tax exile.
Hamilton, now celebrating having won the championship for the second time, lives in Monaco.
As it turns out, he lives reasonably close to Sir Philip Green’s wife Tina, under whose name retailer Arcadia has been filed under.
Actor Michael Cain was said to have left Britain in 1870 due to the 83 per cent top rate of income tax, but never returned when they lowered. In fact, he wasn’t too pleased about the 50 per cent top rate of tax either.
“I decided not to become a tax exile, so I stayed in Britain, but they kept putting the tax up, so I’d do any old thing every now and then to pay the tax, that was my tax exile money,” he said. “I realised that’s not a socialist country, it’s a communist country without a dictator, so I left and I was never going to come back.”
And in May it came to light that Take That members Gary Barlow, Howard Donald and Mark Owen had been caught investing in a tax avoidance scheme focused on the music industry.
Judge Colin Bishopp, in charge of their case, said: “Although neither the borrowings nor the guaranteed payments had, in reality, any connection at all to the intellectual property rights the partnership had acquired, the underlying, and fundamental, conclusion we have reached is that the Icebreaker scheme is, and was known and understood by all concerned to be, a tax avoidance scheme.”
These are but a few people, out of 33,000 HMRC are tracking, that have aimed to reduce the tax they pay. This list also includes former London Stock Exchange CEO Clara Furse and David Beckham.
Like James Dyson, author J K Rowling is one of Britain’s celebrities to both work and pay the Exchequer for it. She said: “I wanted my children to grow up where I grew up, to have proper roots in a culture as old and magnificent as Britain’s; to be citizens, with everything that implies, of a real country, not free-floating expats … associating only with the children of similarly greedy tax exiles”.
And as stated by Independent writer Jonathan Owen: “Under new laws being introduced in the coming weeks, they face tax demands which they must pay upfront even if they are fighting a legal battle with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).”
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