Beckhams, Dyson boss and Easyjet founder among Britons paying the most tax

Sir James Dyson, Mike Ashley and the Beckham family have been named among those who paid the most tax in the UK last year.

Easyjet founder and owner Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou (£20.7 million), the Warburton family who own the eponymous baking firm (£14.5 million), and the Arora family behind B&M Stores (£25.6 million) are also on the inaugural Sunday Times Tax List.

The paper's rundown of the top 50 taxpayers in 2017/18 is topped by Stephen Rubin, who is the majority owner of JD Sports and was liable for £181.6 million last year.

Royal investitures
Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, founder of easyJet, also featured on the list (Fiona Hanson/PA)

Denise, John and Peter Coates, owners of bet365, are second with a £156 million tax bill, while Sir James Dyson, who recently announced plans to move his company's headquarters to Asia, is third on the list with £127.8 million.

Mike Ashley, founder of Sports Direct, paid £30.4 million in taxes last year and chairman of the Ineos group and the man who topped the Sunday Times Rich List Sir Jim Ratcliffe was liable for £110.5 million.

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."

The Beckhams, who the paper said paid £12.7 million in tax due from their dividends and other levies in the accounts of their two principal companies, are a notable inclusion.

The couple were named on Companies House files as being linked to finance firm Ingenious, which invested in films including Avatar in a bid to secure tax relief.

It has previously been reported the former Manchester United and England footballer was overlooked for a knighthood because of this investment, which has been subjected to scrutiny by HMRC.

Sports Direct court ruling
Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley also featured on the list (Joe Giddens/PA)

The taxman argued the Ingenious scheme was not a legitimate investment opportunity but rather a means of avoiding tax, with a decision upheld that the incentives were not "allowable deductions". It has not been claimed Ingenious or investors were doing anything illegal.

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.

"Disclosure of how much tax they do pay may perhaps raise the prospect of us one day seeing Sir Golden Balls and Lady Posh.

"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."

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