Stuart Rose 'would pay more tax'

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Media captionSir Stuart Rose says he is happy to pay extra tax while the UK is in difficulty and that he is not in favour of scrapping the 50p tax rate

Marks and Spencer ex-boss Sir Stuart Rose has told BBC Hardtalk that he would be prepared to pay more than the current top rate of tax, if necessary.

It comes after 20 economists wrote an open letter to the Financial Times calling for the chancellor to scrap the 50% top rate of tax.

But business leaders in other countries including France, Italy and the US have called for rates to be increased.

"I personally would be prepared to pay more tax," said Sir Stuart.

The Chancellor, George Osborne, has asked HMRC to evaluate the impact and effectiveness of the 50% rate, which applies to taxable earned income above £150,000.

But Mr Rose said that calls by economists to scrap the current top 50% rate of tax were a "no-no".

"I don't really understand the academic research that they have done to validate their case," he said.

The letter was signed by Cambridge University academic Bob Rowthorn and two former members of the Bank of England's monetary policy committee, DeAnne Julius and Sushil Wadhwani.

It maintained that the top rate "punishes" entrepreneurship in the UK and might damage the economy.

Some of the economists also suggested that wealthy tax payers might simply move to other countries - such as Switzerland - in order to avoid the higher rate.

However, Mr Rose suggested now was not the time to be debating lowering taxes on the well-off.

"How would I explain to my secretary that I would pay less tax on my income, which is palpably bigger than hers, when her tax is not going down," said Mr Rose.

Elsewhere in the world, wealthy individuals, including France's richest woman Liliane Bettencourt and the US billionaire investor Warren Buffett, have both said they would be happy to pay higher taxes.

Economists have suggested that higher income taxes may simply convince some high earners to avoid payment, thus reducing revenues.

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Media captionDeAnne Julius: "We have got to be competitive with the rest of the world"

Business Secretary Vince Cable has suggested an alternative may be higher taxes on high-value homes, since such assets are more difficult to relocate.

"It might be a mansion tax, I mean, I don't have a mansion or it might be whatever, I would be prepared to pay more tax," sai Sir Stuart.

However, he did suggest that any increase in taxes might be temporary "whilst the UK is in difficulty".

Sir Stuart declined to comment on how much tax he currently pays.

Watch the full interview on BBC World News and on the BBC News Channel on Tuesday 13 September.

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