Billionaire retail tycoon Chris Dawson has saved £3million on his tax bill as many of the UK’s wealthiest people saw their contribution to the Treasury shrink in the past two years.
The list includes vacuum cleaner inventor Sir James Dyson, financial services tycoon Sir Peter Hargreaves, JD Wetherspoon founder Tim Martin, and South West born Harry Potter author JK Rowling.
It also includes the owners of some key West Country employers, such as Mike Ashley, whose Frasers Group Plc retail empire is a major player in Plymouth and other locations, and the Samworth brothers, now owners of pasty-maker Ginsters.
But many of those in the list have seen their wealth and contributions to the taxman decrease – even before being hit by the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
And with the many of the financial records on which the fiscal calculations were made being for the year up to the outbreak of the pandemic, it it thought even less cash will flow through to the Government in future.
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Mr Dawson, along with wife Sarah Dawson, is estimated to have paid HMRC £17.4million in 2020, down from £20.4million in 2019 and £25.4million in 2018, according to the Tax List.
That is despite the couple’s wealth jumping from £1.96billion in 2018 to just over £2billion last year. Sales at their The Range homeware chain increased from £942.679million to £999.972milion in the year to February 2020, due to an increased number of stores and fixed costs remaining static.
But the Annual Report and Consolidated Financial Statements also revealed no dividend was paid to Mrs Dawson, who owns 100% of the company, during the year and “no dividend has been proposed post-period-end”.
In 2019, a dividend of £25million was paid to Mrs Dawson, who lives in the tax haven of Jersey, a year after the couple had trousered a £39million dividend.
Meanwhile, profit for The Range, after taking out items such as tax, finance costs, and administrative expenses fell to £46.741million from 2019’s £59.483million.
Mr Dawson did, however, jump four places in the Tax List, in which just a third of the 50 businesses and people featured are paying more tax this year.
Sixteen are paying less tax and 17 people listed last year have fallen out of the list altogether this year. In 2020 a business needed to pay £20.4million to make the top 50 – this year it is just £13.1million.
The South West’s biggest contributor to the taxman is Sir James Dyson. The inventor, criticised for shifting his HQ from Wiltshire to Singapore, had a tax liability of £115million, on wealth of £16.2billion.
Mr Dyson sits at number six in a list topped by Bet365’s Coates family, three places above Bristol-based financial services moneybags Peter Hargreaves, who paid £91.4million on tax on a wealth of £2.4billion.
Wetherspoon boss Tim Martin is at number 17, paying £38.6million in tax on a wealth of £311million. Mr Martin has criticised the Covid-19 lockdowns for shuttering his pubs and future tax calculation are likely to be hit by this failure to trade during long periods of the pandemic.
In fact, the pandemic is likely to severely curtail cash flowing to the Exchequer. Lower profits mean fewer Corporation Tax payments, and less tax from dividends.
Author JK Rowling, who studied at the University of Exeter, will pay about £34.8million, down by £13.8million, having earned a lot less in the past year with the shuttering of the Hogwarts theme park and the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child stage show.
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She is one of the few on the list, landing at number 23, whose figures take into account the period of the pandemic and saw her income fall to £72.5million, a 27.5% slip. She is, however, giving royalties from her children’s story The Ickabog to charities hit by the Covid crisis, and has an overall estimated wealth of £795million.
The list is compiled from liabilities for Corporation Tax, tax on dividends and payrolls, Capital Gains Tax, and gambling duties. It is calculated on a mix of company and personal wealth.
The list also includes names familiar across the South West such as Douglas and Dame Mary Perkins, of the Specsavers empire, at number 11, who were liable for £58.3million of tax on wealth of £1.8billion.
That was one place above tracksuit and trainer king Mick Ashley, whose Frasers Group now controls Sports Direct, House of Fraser, Flannels and Evans Cycles, all found within a few yards of each other in Plymouth city centre, for instance. He coughed up £46million to the treasury on his wealth of 1.949billion.
One place below Mr and Mrs Dawson, at number 47, are father and daughter Tony and Lisa Wilkinson, of the Wilko budget homeware chain, with £16.5million paid to the taxman on a pot of £280million.
Brother Sir David and Mark Samworth may be based in the Midlands, but the company they founded owns Ginsters, the pasty-makers with factories in Cornwall and an office at Plymouth’s Royal William Yard. The brother stumped up £30.4million in tax on a wealth of £334million.
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