Stephen Rubin, owner of JD Sports, paid most tax in UK last year with £181m bill | Money

Stephen Rubin, the majority owner of JD Sports, has been revealed as Britain’s highest taxpayer in a list that also includes Sir James Dyson, Mike Ashley and the Beckham family.

Rubin paid £181.6m in taxes in 2017-18, according to a study by the Sunday Times, with Denise, John and Peter Coates, owners of bet365, second on the list with a £156m tax bill.

Sir James Dyson, who recently announced plans to move his company’s headquarters to Asia, was third on the top 50 list with £127.8m.

Mike Ashley, founder of Sports Direct, paid £30.4m in taxes last year and Sir Jim Ratcliffe, chairman of the Ineos group and the man who topped the Sunday Times rich list in 2018, was liable for £110.5m.

Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, the founder of Easyjet, paid £20.7m, the Warburton baking family were billed for £14.5m, and the Arora family, which is behind B&M Stores, were liable for £25.6m.

Robert Watts, who compiles the tax list, said: “It’s hard to deny that the Panama Papers, Paradise Papers and other high-profile scandals have given the impression that none of Britain’s wealthy elite contribute a penny to our public finances.

“But our inaugural Sunday Times tax list shows which of the super-rich are contributing many of millions of pounds a year.

“These are large sums of money – the size that do not merely pay for a nurse, but pay to build the hospital in which they work.”

The Beckhams, who the paper said paid £12.7m in tax due from their dividends and other levies in the accounts of their two principal companies, are a notable inclusion.

The couple were named on Companies House files as being linked to the finance firm Ingenious, which invested in films including Avatar, in a bid to secure tax relief.

It has previously been reported the former Manchester United and England footballer was overlooked for a knighthood because of this investment, which has been subjected to scrutiny by HMRC.

The taxman argued the Ingenious scheme was not a legitimate investment opportunity but rather a means of avoiding tax, with a decision upheld that the incentives were not “allowable deductions”. It has not been claimed Ingenious or investors were doing anything illegal.

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