Beckham family, Sir James Dyson and Sports Direct’s Mike Ashley named among UK’s biggest taxpayers

First of its kind list reveals how UK's wealthiest people contribute to taxes

Conrad Duncan
Sunday 27 January 2019 11:22
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The Beckham family, who have previously faced scrutiny over their tax returns, paid £12.7 million in 2017/18
The Beckham family, who have previously faced scrutiny over their tax returns, paid £12.7 million in 2017/18

Stephen Rubin, billionaire owner of JD Sports, has been named as the UK’s biggest taxpayer with a bill of £181.6m, according to a list compiled by The Sunday Times.

The chairman of Pentland Group, which is one of the UK’s largest sportswear companies, was joined by Sir James Dyson, the Beckham family and Mike Ashley in the inaugral list revealing who paid the most tax in 2017-18.

The rundown of the top 50 taxpayers is likely be a conservative estimate of total tax paid, due to limited access to personal taxation.

In the UK, annual tax returns are not published. The Tax List was calculated from publically available documents detailing corporation tax, dividend tax, capital gains tax and income tax, where available.

Sir James Dyson, who recently announced plans to move his company’s headquarters to Singapore, ranked in third place with his family for £127.8m of estimated tax liabilities.

He came behind Denise, John and Peter Coates, the owners of bet365, who were named the second-highest taxpayers with a £156m tax bill.

Robert Watts, who compiled the 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."

The Panama Papers and Paradise Papers were high-profile leaks of confidential documents revealing how public officials, business people and celebrities used offshore tax havens or avoided paying tax.

The list does not include taxes paid overseas, which explains some of the absences from the newspaper’s annual Rich List.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe, founder and chairman of chemicals company INEOS, was named as the richest person in the UK last year with a net worth of £21.05bn, but he only features at number five in the Tax List.

Mr Rubin featured at number 49 on the 2018 Rich List for his £2.82bn wealth.

Easyjet founder and owner Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou (£20.7m), the Warburton family, who own the eponymous baking firm (£14.5m), and Mr Ashley, founder of Sports Direct, (£30.4 million) were also included in the list.

Who has been named in the Paradise Papers leak?

The Beckham family, who the paper said paid £12.7m in tax due from their dividends and other levies in the accounts of their two principal companies, were another notable inclusion.

The Beckhams were named on the government’s companies register as being linked to finance firm Ingenious, which invested in films including Avatar in a bid to secure tax relief.

David Beckham’s involvement with the firm, which has been subjected to scrutiny by HMRC, has previously been reported as a reason for the former England footballer being overlooked for a knighthood.

Mr Watts said: "There has long been the suspicion that the former England captain's involvement in investment schemes under attack by the taxman blew the whistle on Beckham's knighthood.”

The Beckhams featured at number 49 on the Tax List with a bill of £12.7m.

"These figures arguably make the case for the wealthy more effectively than many charitable foundations or other philanthropy these people do,” Mr Watts said.

"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."

Nearly £2bn in tax was paid by the 50 people at the top of the Tax List.

The full top 10 is included below:

1. Stephen Rubin and family – owner of the Pentland Group which owns Mitre, Speedo, Berghaus and SeaVees, and majority shareholder in JD Sports: £181.6 million (of tax paid)

2. Denise, John and Peter Coates – owners of gambling firm bet365: £156 million

3. Sir James Dyson and family – owner of the household appliance manufacturer Dyson: £127.8 million

4. Bruno Schroder and family – banker and non-executive board member of asset management company Schroder's: £114.3 million

5. Sir Jim Ratcliffe – Chairman and chief executive officer of Ineos chemicals group: £110.5 million

6. The Weston family – Owners of retailers Selfridges and Primark and the Twinings drinks brand: £76 million

7. Sir Chris Hohn – Hedge fund manager who established The Children's Investment Fund Management: £64 million

8. Sir Peter Wood – Founder of insurance company esure: £53.7 million

9. James Benamor – Founder of loan brokers Richmond Group and Amigo: £52.2 million

10. Baroness Howard de Walden and family – Property investors, mainly in Marylebone, central London: £44.1 million

Agencies contributed to this report

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