Shropshire Star

Bernie Ecclestone’s fraud settlement ‘made him 2023’s second-biggest tax payer’

The ex-Formula One owner agreed to pay over £650 million to settle a case in October.

Former Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone

A more than half-billion pound tax settlement for former Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone made him the second-biggest tax payer in the UK last year, the Sunday Times Tax List has suggested.

The millionaire businessman, 93, in October agreed a £652.6 million settlement over tax that he was meant to pay to HM Revenue & Customs during 18 years starting in 1994.

The Tax List researchers said Mr Ecclestone was the second-highest individual taxpayer in the country as a result, a little behind Alex Gerko, the billionaire founder of trading firm XTX Markets.

They said that two-thirds of the people who were on last year’s list paid less tax this year.

Mostly this was because people’s businesses made less profit last year, but it comes at a time when the Office for Budget Responsibility expects the UK tax burden to hit a post-war high before the end of the decade.

Third on the list were Denise, John and Peter Coates, the family behind online gambling giant Bet365. They paid £375.9 million.

The gambling fortune of Fred and Peter Done and family put them in fourth place at £204.6 million, closely followed by Wetherspoon founder Sir Tim Martin.

“This has been the highest taxing government since the Second World War and although the total tax take is up – it is only by 3.3%,” said Tax List compiler Robert Watts.

“Bernie Ecclestone seems to have saved Jeremy Hunt’s blushes. The total tax found in this year’s research would have been a wedge lower were it not for the vast sum shelled out by the Formula One tycoon to settle a long-running investigation.”

Akshata Murty
Rishi Sunak’s wife Akshata Murty was liable for tax of around £4.8 million after she gave up her non-dom status (PA)

The researchers said that Akshata Murty, the wife of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, was liable for tax of around £4.8 million after she gave up her non-dom status following political pressure. It was not enough to get her included on the list.

“If you look at the bottom 98 in this year’s list they paid £4.03 billion, £200 million less than last year,” Mr Watts said.

“That’s the amount the Government pledged to the NHS to boost winter resilience. Two thirds of the wealthy individuals in 2023’s Tax List were found to have paid less tax this year.

“That was usually because their businesses have reported lower profits. But lower tax receipts from the UK’s richest people may raise more than the odd eyebrow at a time when the public finances remain stretched and there is talk of Budget giveaways in the air.”

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