Business News JK Rowling and Ed Sheeran among UK's highest tax payers

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A Russian-born billionaire, JK Rowling and Ed Sheeran feature in the latest list of the highest UK tax payers.

The 100 contributors, ranked by the Sunday Times, were judged to have added £5.35bn to public finances last year.

The newspaper estimated tax paid on business profits, share sales, dividends, house purchases and personal income.
Two-thirds of the list paid less tax in 2023 than in the year before, it said.

Originally from Moscow, financial trader Alex Gerko topped the index, followed by former F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone, while the boss of gambling firm Bet365, Denise Coates, came in third.

Mr Ecclestone is a new entry after paying £650m in tax and penalties to HMRC to avoid jail. The 93-year-old failed to declare more than £400m held in a trust in Singapore when asked by tax authorities in 2015.

As the largest taxpayer, Mr Gerko - who was ranked 15th in last year's Sunday Times Rich List - paid an estimated £664.5m for the 2023 financial year, an equivalent of more than £1.8m a day.

The Russian-born financial trader, who founded algorithmic trading firm XTX Markets, renounced his Russian nationality and gained British citizenship in 2016.
"In the world of algorithmic trading, this guy's a rock star," Robert Watts, who compiled the list, told the BBC.

Akshata Murty, the wife of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, paid tax of about £4.8m, according to the newspaper's calculations, but did not make the minimum £10m threshold to make the list.

Who are the UK's largest taxpayers?​

  1. Alex Gerko, £664.5m. Owner of founder of algorithmic trading firm XTX Markets
  2. Bernie Ecclestone, £652.6m. Former boss of Formula 1
  3. Denise, John and Peter Coates, £375.9m. Owners of gambling company Bet365.
  4. Fred and Peter Done and family, £204.6m. Owners of gambling company Betfred.
  5. Sir Tim Martin, £167.1m. Owner of pub chain JD Wetherspoon.
  6. Sir James Dyson and family, £156m. Vacuum cleaner and household appliance company.
  7. The Weston family, £146.2m. Owners of brands including Selfridges, Primark, Ryvita, Silver Spoon, Ovaltine and Twinings.
  8. Mike Ashley, £139.4m. Owner of brands including, Sports Direct, House of Fraser, Evans Cycles and Jack Wills.
  9. John Bloor, £118.1m. Owner of Bloor Homes and Triumph Motorcycles.
  10. Bruno Schroder and family, £114.3m. Investment management company.
Two thirds of the wealthy individuals in 2023's Tax List were found to have paid less tax this year than last, which according to Mr Watts could be because businesses have reported lower profits.

"Bernie Ecclestone, having contributed £652.6m this year, was a one off win for the public finances. Without that payment, the total take on this year's taxes would have been down on last year," he said.

Gambling billionaire Denise Coates, Specsavers founder Dame Mary Perkins and retailer Chrissie Rucker are among 18 women to appear in this year's rankings.

More than a quarter of the entries were London-based, with another eight from south-east England. Thirteen came from the Midlands, 11 from south-west England and 10 from Scotland, where the top rate of tax will increase from 47% to 48% from April.


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Anthony Joshua paid £12m putting him 88th on the list

Heavyweight boxer Anthony Joshua is 88th out of 100 on the index, after his company posted a turnover of £129m. He contributed over £12m in UK tax.

Author JK Rowling ranks 31st on the list, having paid £40m in UK taxes in the past 12 months. One below at 32nd is Ed Sheeran who paid more than £36m in UK tax.
"We do know our readers like to compare the names on the Tax List with those with the Rich List and wonder why there are not more people who feature on both lists," Mr Watts said.

The Hinduja family, who own a vast conglomerate of businesses across the world and whose combined wealth is £35bn, topped the Sunday Times Rich List last year, but did not feature on the tax list.

According to Mr Watts this is because their wealth is derived from businesses that are not in the UK.

"The UK has become a magnet to some of the world's wealthiest people. They enjoy the cultural life that the UK operates and its wealth managers, they don't necessarily create many businesses here and so they probably do pay a lot of tax that they pay in other countries, and we only count tax that we are confident that is paid here in the UK," he added.

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