British Virgin Islands

Wednesday, Jan 27, 2021

Can pay, won't pay: how Windsor became the tax-dodging capital of the UK

Can pay, won't pay: how Windsor became the tax-dodging capital of the UK

A new analysis of all 279 areas in the country shows the jolly nice Berkshire town has the highest concentration of tax avoiders

Name: Windsor.

Age: Yeah, quite old. There was almost certainly a settlement there before William the Conqueror showed up and built a castle in 1070.

Location: On the Thames in Berkshire, about 20 miles west of central London. And FYI, it’s twinned with Goslary in Lower Saxony in Germany and Neuilly-sur-Seine in France.

Yes, yes, very interesting, but this is a news-based column. Presumably there is a story? Yes, it’s the tax-dodging capital of the UK.

Really? Meaning what exactly? Of all the 279 areas in the UK, Windsor has the highest concentration of tax avoiders. Analysis carried out after freedom of information requests to HMRC has revealed that there were 23 disclosures per 100,000 people of unpaid tax in Windsor (and neighbouring Maidenhead).

How does that compare with the rest of the country? The average is seven per 100,000.

So Windsor is more than three times as dodgy as the average place? Tax-wise yes, I suppose so.

But in other ways, Windsor wouldn’t be described as dodgy at all, would it? Not at all – quite the opposite, it’s jolly nice.

It’s almost like the wealthiest people are ripping off everyone else. I suppose you could look at it that way.

What about other hotspots? St Albans (20 per 100,000), Guildford (17) and Tunbridge Wells (15) all do well.

Though I’m not sure you mean “well”. While tax avoidance is legal, it can be open to abuse. Hang on, though, Windsor … it’s ringing a bell; doesn’t someone famous live there? Quite a few actually. It is, as already mentioned, jolly nice.

No but really famous. You mentioned William I building a castle there, right? A timber one, motte and bailey, long gone.

But another one was built in its place? I’m thinking the bell that’s ringing might be coming from St George’s Chapel … Hey, this is not that kind of story. It’s not a royal one, OK?

The Crown is tax exempt though? True, but since 1993 the Queen and the Prince of Wales have voluntarily paid income tax.

What does the HM in HMRC stand for then? Isn’t she effectively paying herself? No.

But it was only after her castle burnt down in the annus horribilis and the following outcry that the taxpayer might have to foot the massive repair bill that she offered to pay tax, wasn’t it? Yes, but this isn’t about that!

Windsor, tax avoidance, that’s near enough. Go on then, do say: “Philip! We’ll do one’s return online this year, it gives us an extra couple of months.”

Don’t say: “Shall we just call it the Cayman Islands on Thames?”


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