Revealed: Britain's biggest taxpayers

The people who choose to pay their share. By James Cusick

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The Independent Online

They are Britain's billionaires and multimillionaires who stay and pay, the super wealthy that Her Majesty's tax officials don't need to hunt down.

At a time when politics are dominated by heated debate on the billions of pounds that recession-hit Britain loses in revenue to shady, offshore tax havens and tax avoidance schemes, research by i reveals that many of our highest-earning taxpayers choose not to routinely hide their income from HMRC and haven't packed their bags for Monaco or the Bahamas.

The study reveals that a surprising mix of leading investment gurus, financial wizards, and property and insurance bosses are some of the wealthiest "customers" of HMRC's "Affluence Unit", the specialists who look after those people with assets worth more than £2.5m.

i's star taxpayers' list is based on visible earnings at Companies House, in the annual reports and accounts of publicly quoted and privately-held companies. There is no evidence to suggest these individuals, who live and work in Britain, have done anything to reduce their huge tax bills.

All on the list are financial experts capable of reducing what they hand over to HMRC. But there is nothing to suggest they opt to do so. According to the information at Companies House, their income payments are made to them direct in the UK and not routed via some complicated overseas tax structure.

Commenting on the list, Matthew Sinclair, of The TaxPayers' Alliance, said: "It is important to expose tax evaders, but it is also important to recognise those who buck the trend and pay their fair share of tax.

It gives the lie to the notion that all of Britain's wealthy are scared off by robust tax laws and are engaged in a hide-and-seek battle with HMRC. This is a timely reminder that for all the stories about the bad apples, most people, rich and poor, pay plenty of tax."

It is an inconvenient truth for those who believe high taxes will scare away the super rich, that many of Britain's billionaires and multimillionaires are prepared to pay what it costs to live and work in Britain.

For the Treasury's coffers, it's crucial. According to recent figures, the UK is home to 26,000 individuals earning between £500,000 and £1m a year, and 13,000 people with taxable earnings over of more than a million a year.

Though critical of both this and the previous government's tax regimes, none on our list, off the record, believed leaving the UK in order to pay less tax elsewhere was an option they had considered for long.