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Taxes less certain than death

Martin Rosenbaum | 11:42 UK time, Monday, 30 April 2007

There were 65 people who for 2004/05 filed a tax return declaring a taxable income of over £10 million. This information has just been given to the BBC by HM Revenue and Customs, in response to a freedom of information request.

However, in the Sunday Times Rich List for 2005 there were 65 entries with a wealth of at least £700 million, while 250 entries had at least £200 million and 500 had £100 million. So these people may be super-rich but they're not very good at generating income and converting their wealth into even more money, are they? Or am I missing something?

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  • 1.
  • At 01:46 PM on 08 May 2007,
  • angryaardvark wrote:

You're missing quite a lot!

I am the accountant for one of these people. Here are 2 reasons why the numbers don't appear to match:

1) Most people of this sort of wealth have distributed it into many family trusts. This means that their tax bill is shared over a number of tax references and doesn't appear in the statistics quoted by the Revenue, even though the tax has been paid

2) A common tax saving device amongst this group is to invest in appreciating assets. There is no tax on these whilst the asset appreciates, only on its sale. If those assets are business assets, there is not even any tax on death so no tax at all accrues to the increase in value.

There are probably lots of other reasons too, but basically you aren't comparing like for like.

For what it is worth, the Sunday Times rich list was many tens of millions out in assessing the individual I know about, so I wouldn't put too much store in that either!

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