List shows who paid most tax in UK last year – and how much they paid

Bet365 founder Denise Coates was the largest taxpayer in the country for the second year running.

The betting site’s joint manager and her family, valued at £ 7.166 billion, had a tax debt of £ 573 million last year, according to the Sunday Times annual tax list.

Fred and Peter Done, the brothers behind bookmaker Betfred, took third place with a tax burden of £ 191.3 million, while inventor Sir James Dyson sat in sixth place with £ 115 million.

Vacuum cleaner mogul Sir James, who topped the list of the rich in 2020 with a fortune of £ 16.2 billion, contributed £ 12 million more in taxes than last year.

The list, which mainly covers corporate and personal tax risk through the end of 2019, shows that the tax amount of the super-rich in the UK fell sharply even before the Covid-19 pandemic broke out.

The rich had to contribute £ 13.1 million to make it into the top 50 on this year’s list, up from £ 20.4 million last year, a 36% decrease.

Harry Potter writer JK Rowling fell from 19th to 23rd in this year’s rankings and her tax liability fell from £ 48.6m to £ 34.8m.

The world-famous writer’s revenues fell from an estimated £ 100 million last year to £ 72.5 million when theaters and theme parks closed.

Musician Ed Sheeran is the best-known addition to the tax list, ranking 32nd with tax payments of £ 28.2 million.

Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley moved up one spot to 12th in the rankings despite his tax liability dropping £ 8.8m to £ 46m.

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

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

The 50 wealthiest individuals or families on the list had to collect taxes of around £ 3.18 billion this year, up 27% from £ 2.5 billion last year.

However, this is due to taxes paid on dividends of £ 982.5 million to shareholders in whiskey conglomerate William Grant, as well as a change in the methodology of the list that now includes gambling fees paid by the betting companies be taken into account.

Without these two factors, the top 50 total tax liability would be £ 700m lower this year, lower than last year’s £ 2.5bn.

Glenn Gordon and his family, who are behind the spirits company William Grant, rank second on this year’s list with a tax liability of £ 436.4 million.

Robert Watts, draftsman of the tax list, said: “These worrying numbers show that taxes levied on many of the UK’s super-rich have fallen sharply, largely as their businesses have experienced a downturn.”

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

She said: “The list of the rich last year identified the UK’s 10 richest people and families, but only two of them are among the top 10 who paid the most taxes in the past fiscal year.

“These obvious loopholes show that our current tax system is no longer functional. For some of the richest people in Britain, it’s just too easy not to pay taxes the way most normal families have to do.”

The annual survey examines taxes due on corporate profits, stock sales, dividend income, and, as is known, personal income through salaries to identify individuals and families who add the most to the public purse.

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