Celebrities have a reputation for keeping their mouths shut when it comes to tax, as the less that’s known about their little offshore schemes the better. But, there are odd moments when they decide to pipe up, and the majority of the time, it’s about how taxes are unfair on the ridiculously wealthy. Here’s how celebrities really feel about tax!
After the London 2012 Olympics, which saw Bolt win three gold medals, the fastest man in the world announced that he would not be competing in the UK until the tax laws were changed. The sprinter, who earns a reported £12.7million a year, objected to the law that states he is to be taxed on global sponsorship, endorsement earnings and appearance fees while in the country. This would not have just included a portion of his winnings, but also a significant chunk of his £12.5million sponsorship deal with Puma. He is so adamant on this principle that he pulled out of the Aviva London Grand Prix in 2010 – competing in Paris instead for £250,000 – and only ran in the London Olympics after HMRC announced a tax amnesty for competitors. He’s also stated that he would move to the UK, but only if we got rid of our tax laws.
He might be fighting for his life from a skiing accident, but prior to that, Michael Schumacher’s biggest battle was with Switzerland’s taxation law on foreign celebrities. A tax haven that foreign celebrities flocked to to avoid paying tax, Switzerland was under pressure from politicians and trade unions to axe such tax privileges, and Schumacher was not happy about it. He claimed that the country would lose him and his entire £500million fortune, plus other wealthy foreigners, if the tax deal ended. The other wealthy foreigners included fellow F1 racer, Lewis Hamilton, as well as Sir Roger Moore, Dame Shirley Bassey, Phil Collins and David Bowie.
The Rolling Stones
Worth a staggering £242million, accumulated over a period of 20 years, you would think that Sir Mick, Charlie, Keith and Ronnie would have paid a sizeable chunk to taxes. But after setting up a will for their beneficiaries in 2006, it was revealed that they had paid just 1.6% tax – £3.9million. The comparatively miniscule amount is due to an enormous tax break, where their fortunes have been secretly invested in two Holland trusts since 1972 as the band didn’t trust British banks, which will hold the rights to the band’s music, performances and merchandise. As Ronnie Wood didn’t join the band until 1975, he is not a part of the deal and thus escapes such scrutiny, but you can’t help but wonder what scheme he’s using!
83% Income Tax
When Harold Wilson became Prime Minister in 1974, there was a weight loss in the UK in the form of wealthy celebrities, as they all flocked overseas to escape the extortionate 83% income tax for top earners. The few years after the rise saw Sir Tom Jones, Michael Caine, Bad Company, David Bowie, John Barry and Guy Hamilton leave the UK for America.
Andrea Schwartz (The Price Is Right Contestant)
Maybe not a celebrity or household name, but she at least got her 15 minutes – and made it last even longer when she revealed that when contestants win prizes on the US games show, The Price Is Right, they also have to pay taxes on what they win. During her time on the show, Andrea Schwartz won $33,000 in prizes, including a pool table and a new Mazda 2, but before she could take the lot home, she had to “fill out some paperwork and basically sign your life away”, which included agreeing to pay the taxes. This meant that she owed $2,500, some of which she had to pay out of her cash winnings from the show. You really don’t get something for nothing!