Mike Ashley, Selfridges & Primark owners among UK’s biggest taxpayers

Mike Ashley, Selfridges & Primark owners among UK's biggest taxpayers
Overall, the top 50 taxpayers in the The Sunday Times Tax List were liable for a whopping £2.5bn between them in the 2018-19 financial year.
// Selfridges & Primark owners the Weston Family the biggest taxpayer in UK retail 6th overall after contributing £85m in taxes
// Tom Morris & family – who own Home Bargains – in 8th place after paying £67.4 million in taxes
// Mike Ashley ranked 13th after contributing £54.8 million worth of tax

The family that owns the likes of Selfridges and Primark has been identified as biggest taxpayer in UK retail, according to new figures.

The Sunday Times Tax List shows that the Weston family contributed £85 million in taxes – making them the sixth biggest taxpayer in the UK overall.

The Weston family owns Whittington Investments, the parent company of Seflridges, Fortnum & Mason and furniture retailer Heal’s, and has a majority stake in Primark parent company AB Foods.

The second-biggest taxpayer in retail and the only other one to enter the overall top 10 is Tom Morris and family, owners of discount retail chain Home Bargains.

They ranked eighth in the UK after paying £67.4 million in taxes.

Meanwhile, Mike Ashley – the retail tycoon behind Sports Direct, House of Fraser, Jack Wills and Evans Cycles – ranked 13th after contributing £54.8 million worth of tax.

The 2020 edition of The Sunday Times Tax List was compiled using publicly available documentation on taxation in 2018-19, and factored in account corporation tax, dividend tax, capital gains tax, income tax and payroll taxes.

Corporate taxes or personal taxes overseas are not counted.

Other retailers to have entered the top 50 include Arcadia Group owners Sir Philip and Lady Tina Green, who were were ranked 23rd with their tax bill of £44 million.

Dame Mary and Douglas Perkins and family were hot on the heels of the Topshop owners, coming in at 24th with their Specsavers high street chain contributing £43 million in taxes.

Will Adderley and family, who have a 51 per cent stake in furniture retailer Dunelm, was ranked 36th on the tax list thanks to their £28.4 million contribution.

The Arora brothers, owners of discount chain B&M, ranked 37th after they paid £27.8 million in taxes.

The Clarks family, owner of the footwear retail chain of the same name, came in at 38th after to their £28 million contribution.

Meanwhile, The Range owners Chris and Sarah Dawson ranked 50th with their tax contribution of £20 million.

Overall, the top 50 taxpayers in the The Sunday Times Tax List were liable for £2.5 billion between them in the 2018-19 financial year.

The founder and joint chief executive of Bet365, Denise Coates, had a tax liability of £276 million last year, making her the country’s largest taxpayer last year,

Coates and family owed tax bills including their £113.2 million share of Bet365’s corporation tax bill and social security costs, such as National Insurance, and £130 million in tax from Coates’ £276.6 million income.

Harry Potter creator JK Rowling, vacuum cleaner mogul Sir James Dyson also appear in the top 20.

The best-selling author, in 19th place, paid £48.6 million, while Dyson and family, in fourth, paid £103 million.

Last year, sportswear boss Stephen Rubin owed the highest amount, with a tax bill of £181.6 million. This year, he is in second place, having paid £143.9 million.

Robert Watts, who compiled the tax list and also works on The Sunday Times Rich List, said: “The rich are often bashed as tax avoiders and if that was always true then it wouldn’t matter when wealthy Brits leave the UK for Monaco, the Caribbean and other tax havens.

“But our tax list shows there are a significant number of these people who do contribute tens of millions of pounds a year towards the UK’s public finance each year.

“This shows that an exodus of the super rich would leave us with weaker public services or paying more tax to fill the gap.

“The challenge for the government is to squeeze a fair share out of the wealthy – without driving away the individuals who contribute the sort of sums each year that can build a school or a hospital.”

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