The 50 wealthy individuals or families at the top of the first Sunday Times Tax List, were liable for nearly £2bn of UK tax last year.
The Sunday Times survey, the first of its kind, examined the taxes due on business profits, share sales, dividend income, and, where known, personal income through their salaries.
Twenty-eight of the 145 billionaires in last year’s Sunday Times Rich List make the top 50 of the Tax List, with a further 18 millionaires also making the cut. Four of the Tax Listers did not appear in the Rich List but are still making a big enough contribution to the Exchequer to be among the taxman’s best friends.
Stephen Rubin tops the list and he owns a majority stake in the high-street chain JD Sports, as well as sports and fashion brands such as Mitre, Speedo, Berghaus and SeaVees through his London-based Pentland Group. In total he had tax liabilities of £181.6m in 2018, £121.5m of it stemming from his JD Sports holding, £53.2m from his Pentland’s corporate tax bill, plus another £6.86m tax bill on the £18m of dividends he and his family received from the business during the year.
A notable inclusion in 49th place are David & Victoria Beckham. David Beckham was reportedly overlooked for a knighthood because of an investment in a film scheme considered tax avoidance by HRMC. It is calculated the Beckhams paid a total of £12.7m of tax, due from their dividends and other levies in the accounts of their two principal companies. Those behind the film scheme Becks invested in – run by Ingenious Media – still maintain it was lawful.
Robert Watts, who compiles the Tax List and The Sunday Times Rich List said, “It’s hard to deny that the Panama Papers, Paradise Papers and other high-profile scandals have given the impression that none of Britain’s wealthy elite contribute a penny to our public finances.
“But our inaugural Sunday Times Tax List shows which of the super-rich are contributing many of millions of pounds a year. These are large sums of money – the size that do not merely pay for a nurse, but pay to build the hospital in which they work.
“These figures arguably make the case for the wealthy more effectively than many charitable foundations or other philanthropy these people do.
“The Tax List also raises the question of how our country fills the gap if Brexit – or a more hostile political environment – encourages the super-rich to quit the UK for Monaco, Switzerland or other low-tax bolt holes.”