Oliver Duff

i Editor's Letter: Rather than shame those who avoid tax, perhaps we should celebrate the ones who pay it

 

Share

 

We should celebrate our biggest taxpayers. My heart was lifted this week by a feature in one of i’s sister titles (the London Evening Standard) about rich Brits who pay their taxes. So what, one might ask? They jolly well should do.

The value of the exercise, though, is in countering the narrative that the rich always dodge their dues to society. Not every leading businessman and pop musician secretes their assets offshore. Take the Phones4U founder John Caudwell, estimated wealth £1.5bn, who believes he is Britain’s biggest individual taxpayer, contributing more than £250m to the Exchequer since 2008. He wants tax avoiders to be named and shamed, adding: “Where the country’s indebtedness is so colossal and the budget deficit is so huge, there is a moral obligation on people to pay their fair and reasonable dues.”

Paying a lot of tax is patriotic. JK Rowling, whose wealth is estimated at £570m and who funded a new multiple sclerosis research centre in memory of her mother, has commented that she is “indebted to the British welfare state” because “when my life hit rock bottom, that safety net was there to break the fall. It would have been contemptible to scarper to the West Indies at the first sign of a royalty cheque.”

South Korea rewards those who cough up with “Exemplary Taxpayer” status. Perhaps it’s time we did the same. HMRC’s cat-and-mouse game with tax lawyers will never suffice, and shame isn’t deterrent enough – some people are beyond it. So let’s try pride. Open a British Hall of Tax in grand premises: the public can walk through galleries past portraits of the most notable supporters of HMRC, inspiring words from them, what their money helped to buy – a  celebration of wealth put to our social benefit. An anteroom could, of course, catalogue great British tax avoiders and their accountants.

i@independent.co.uk.

Twitter.com: @olyduff

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Software Engineer - C#, VB.Net, ASP.Net - Kingston, Sur

£50000 - £60000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Senior Software Engineer - C#, VB.N...

General Cover Teacher

£120 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Luton: The Job:SECONDARY teachers need...

Behaviour Support Work

£60 - £70 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Behaviour Support WorkerThe JobTo...

English Teacher, Aylesford School

Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: Randstad Education is working in...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Hunted: A stag lies dead on Jura, where David Cameron holidays and has himself stalked deer  

David Beckham's Haig Club whisky is exactly what’s wrong with the Highlands

Liam Turbett
Lord Mayor of London Fiona Woolf at the Lord Mayor's Banquet in November 2013  

I was ready to testify about the abuse I suffered as a child – but I can’t as long as Fiona Woolf chairs the inquiry

Alex Wheatle
Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker