Bet365 boss remains UK’s biggest taxpayer

PA

Bet365 founder Denise Coates was the country’s largest taxpayer for the second year running, new figures show.

The betting website’s joint chief executive and her family, who are worth £7.166 billion, had a tax liability of £573 million last year, according to the annual Sunday Times Tax List.

Fred and Peter Done, the brothers behind bookmakers Betfred, came in third with a tax bill of £191.3 million, while inventor Sir James Dyson sat in sixth place having paid £115 million.

Ed Sheeran sells artwork for charity
Ed Sheeran sells artwork for charity

Vacuum cleaner mogul Sir James, who topped the 2020 rich list with his £16.2 billion fortune, contributed £12 million more in tax than the year before.

The list, which mostly covers business and personal tax exposure to the end of 2019, shows the amount of tax taken from Britain’s super-rich fell sharply even before the Covid-19 pandemic took hold.

The wealthy needed to contribute £13.1 million to make it into the top 50 of this year’s list, down from £20.4 million the year before, a 36% drop.

Harry Potter author JK Rowling fell from 19th to 23rd in this year’s rankings, with her tax liabilities dropping from £48.6m to £34.8m.

JK Rowling transgender row
JK Rowling transgender row

It comes as the world-famous writer’s earnings dropped from an estimated £100 million last year to £72.5 million as theatres and theme parks closed.

Musician Ed Sheeran is the most high-profile new entry to the tax list, ranking 32nd with tax payments of £28.2 million.

Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley climbed one place in the rankings to 12th, despite his tax liabilities dropping by £8.8 million to £46 million.

Meanwhile, Sir Philip Green dropped out of the top 50 list as his Arcadia retail empire fell into administration.

Sir Philip and his wife Lady Tina Green were ranked 23rd in last year’s list with a tax liability of £44.4 million.

Arcadia Group
Arcadia Group

The list’s top 50 wealthy individuals or families were liable for around £3.18 billion of tax this year, up 27% from £2.5 billion last year.

But this is due to tax paid on £982.5 million of dividends to shareholders in the William Grant whisky conglomerate, and a change in the list’s methodology, which now counts gambling duties paid by betting businesses.

Without these two factors, this year’s total tax liability of the top 50 would be £700 million less, and below last year’s figure of £2.5 billion.

Glenn Gordon and family, who are behind the William Grant spirits firm, are second in this year’s list with a £436.4 million tax liability.

Robert Watts, compiler of the tax list, said: “These worrying numbers show the tax taken from many of Britain’s super-rich has fallen sharply, largely because their businesses have seen a downturn.”

Institute for Public Policy Research executive director Carys Roberts said the UK tax system was “no longer fit for purpose”.

She said: “Last year’s rich list identified the UK’s 10 richest people and families, yet only two of them are listed among the 10 who paid most taxes in the last financial year.

“These glaring gaps show that our current tax system is no longer fit for purpose, it’s just too easy for some of the UK’s richest people to avoid paying taxes in the way that most ordinary families have to.”

The annual survey examines the taxes due on business profits, share sales, dividend income, and, where known, personal income through salaries, to identify individuals and families who contribute most to the public purse.

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