Should David Beckham’s tax payments earn him a knighthood?


Andy Wood

Andy is a practical, creative tax adviser who assists a variety of clients in achieving their personal and commercial objectives in the most tax efficient manner.

Should David Beckham’s tax payments earn him a knighthood?

Some might say that the wealthy have a strange relationship with tax.

Only a couple of years ago, during the campaign which ended with him becoming President of the United States, Donald Trump boasted about returns which revealed him to have paid not a single cent in federal taxes.

“That makes me smart”, he said.

When asked about the rather sophisticated used by his band, U2’s Bono explained that it was “just some smart people we have … trying to be sensible about the way we’re taxed”

There are many in business who might agree, given that efficiency in tax is prized just as highly as in other areas of running a company. Delivering value to shareholders rather than the taxman is not regarded as such a bad thing.

Even so, whilst there isn’t necessarily an obligation to pay more tax than you should, most people accept the need to pay at least some of their income and gains to the Treasury.

After all, tax pays for the provision of very essential services.

Which is why I afforded myself a wry smile looking over the Sunday Times’ inaugural ranking of Britain’s 50 biggest payers of tax.

A companion piece to the same publication’s annual survey of the country’s wealthiest men and women, the Tax List demonstrates the flip side of Donald Trump’s boast; namely, that there might well be some kudos in showing how large one’s tax bill is.

As the list demonstrated, isolating the different types of taxation which might qualify entrepreneurs, financiers and property tycoons to be included on the list of HMRC’s biggest individual contributors is somewhat difficult.

Indeed, some aspects of the compiler’s methodology seem distinctly questionable.

There are those, however, who believe that coughing up a great chunk in tax not only means paying what might be due but could even buttress their efforts to secure official honours.

Certain tabloid newspapers, for instance, have spent recent days arguing that the £12.7 million reportedly handed over to the Revenue by former England football captain David Beckham and his pop star-turned-fashion designer wife Victoria should strengthen calls for him to earn a knighthood.

If true, of course, it would represent a considerable shift since David Beckham’s involvement in a scheme which HMRC decided amounted to tax avoidance.

Back in 2017, he was one of more than 1,000 people who failed to overturn the Revenue’s demand for a tax bill totalling in excess of £700 million after they invested in a scheme which aimed to exploit tax breaks originally intended as support for the UK film industry.

Indeed, it has been alleged that David Beckham’s involvement in this scheme had led to him being ‘red-flagged’ for a Knighthood in 2014, as ‘poor tax behaviour is not consistent with the award of an honour’.

It had also previously been reported that Gareth Southgate had suffered a similar fate. However, it appears that Sem-Final defeat to Croatia trumps participation in a tax avoidance arrangements where honours are concerned.

However, surely awards should not be given out simply because a person pays their tax dues?

Instead, if tax payments really merit official recognition, who might actually deserve one?

Well, why not those who make what are known as ‘Patriotic Payments’, voluntary tax payments to help the Exchequer fulfill its objectives?

For those who say they would ‘gladly pay more tax’ if they could, this is how it is done.

According to the most recent figures from a relatively obscure branch of government known as the Debt Management Office, some 200 such payments totalling £8.3 million have been made since the turn of the century.

Evidently, paying more tax than is due does not appear a very popular course of action!

Perhaps then if tax payments are linked to the ward of honours, then these people are the ones who should be getting honours. As opposed to the likes of David Beckham and other highly paid people simply paying their dues.

If you are David Beckham, or any other taxpayer, and require any assistance with your tax affairs then please get in touch.

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