In Depth

The UK’s biggest taxpayers

Denise Coates, founder of Bet365, tops The Sunday Times Tax List for last year

The Sunday Times has released its annual list of the UK’s top taxpayers, with Denise Coates and James Dyson among the top 50 individuals and families who together paid almost £2.5bn of tax last year.

The Tax List tends to attract less attention than the newspaper’s annual Rich List, although many argue that tax figures are more important as they show who has avoided accountants’ tricks that could lower their tax bill. Carys Roberts, chief economist at the left-wing IPPR think-tank, said: “It is striking that many of the richest people in the country do not feature in this list.”

Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley came in at number 13, while the Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling was in 19th place.

Here’s a look at the top ten:

1. Denise Coates and family (2019 wealth: £6,856m; tax: £276m)

The owners of the online gambling giant Bet365 pay nearly twice as much as anyone else on The Sunday Times’ list. Denise Coates, 52, who heads up the company and takes a personal salary of £276.6m, is a controversial figure to those who believe that gambling adversely affects vulnerable people. She has, however, kept her company based in Stoke-on-Trent while many competitors have quit the UK for tax reasons.

2. Stephen Rubin and family (2019 wealth: £3,000m; tax: £143.9m)

Rubin transformed his parents’ business, the Liverpool Shoe Company, into the Pentland Group, a high street sportswear giant which counts Speedo, Berghaus, Ellesse, Mitre, Boxfresh and Endura within its empire, as well as Rubin’s 57.5% stake in JD Sports. Now 82, Rubin has handed the running of the business over to his son, Andy.  

3. Leonie Schroder and family (2019 wealth: £4,019m; tax: £116.8m)

The Schroder family, who have a 44.75% stake in the eponymous London fund management giant, this year lost Bruno Schroder, 86, who had been the company’s director for more than 50 years. Their stake, however, also soared by £1.5bn over the past year. Bruno has been replaced by his 45-year-old daughter Leonie.  

4. James Dyson and family (2019 wealth: £12,600m; tax: £103m)

The vacuum cleaner tycoon insists his oft-criticised decision to move his corporate headquarters to Singapore is not about paying less tax, but “future-proofing” the business. While Dyson, 72, wound up his main UK company, Weybourne Group, this year, a subsidiary called Dyson James group still paid a hefty amount of tax.

5. Carrie and Francois Perrodo and family (2019 wealth: £4,567m; tax: £101.3m)

The Singaporean former model Carrie Perrodo, 69, along with her eldest son Francois, owns Perenco, one of Europe’s leading oil and gas companies. Built up by Perrodo’s late husband Hubert, who died in an Alpine climbing accident in 2006, it operates in 14 countries but is based in London. Francois, 42, also competes as a racing driver.

6. The Weston family (2019 wealth: £10,500m; tax: £85m)

Assets of the broad Weston food and retail dynasty range from Primark to Ovaltine. The Garfield Weston Foundation, which owns the family’s main UK operation, Wittington Investments, was named after the Canadian businessman and wartime UK MP Willard Garfield Weston. His grandson, 59-year-old Guy Weston, is now the chairman of both the foundation and Wittington.

7. The Duke of Westminster (2019 wealth: £10,100m; tax: £69.3m)

He’s only turning 29 this week, but Hugh Grosvenor, the 7th Duke of Westminster, who inherited the title on the death of his father in 2016, now heads up the family that famously owns 300 acres of Mayfair and Belgravia. They also have a property portfolio across 60 cities around the globe, and reportedly made changes to the way they recorded tax in their annual report following the publication of last year’s inaugural Sunday Times Tax List.

8. Tom Morris and family (2019 wealth: £3,590m; tax: £67.4m)

A shopkeeper’s son with six siblings, Tom Morris, 65, founded the Home Bargains chain of shops in 1976 and now has nearly 500 stores and 23,000 staff. He works alongside his brother, Joe, who is the chief operating officer at the family-owned business, and three other brothers are thought to work for the company too.

9. Christopher Hohn (2019 wealth: £1,200m; tax: £58.1m)

Hohn, who was knighted in 2014 for services to philanthropy and international development, has personally given £50,000 to Extinction Rebellion, while his Children’s Investment Fund Foundation has donated a further £150,000. The 53-year-old son of a Jamaican mechanic founded his TCI hedge fund in 2003, and continues to own at least 79% of it.

10. Lord Bamford and family (2019 wealth: £4,150m; tax: £58m)

Sales of JCB’s iconic yellow diggers are booming, luckily for Bamford, who was born on the day his father, Joseph, set up the Staffordshire company from his garage. The 74-year-old makes the top ten of The Sunday Times’ list despite facing questions about his tax affairs in 2010, when the then prime minister, David Cameron, put him up for a peerage.


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