Make the super-rich pay their taxes

Never mind the revolving watchstands and the personal shoppers, we just want the super-rich to pay their share.


Some super-rich women love shopping. Others employ an assistant to do it for them."My clients are very much in the 0.1%," writes one personal shopper, anonymously, in The Times. Let's call her Miss X. She charges £90 an hour and only works by word-of-mouth. Her clients never have to walk into a shop: Miss X will have £100,000-worth of clothes from the likes of Matches and Net-a-Porter sent on approval and the client will then keep, say, £15,000-worth. The trying-on and choosing happens at home; whatever isn't wanted is sent back to the stores.

Miss X's job, however, doesn't stop with buying. She packs for her clients and often advises them on their wardrobe. "I'm going to dinner at5 Hertford Street. What should I wear?" a client will text her. Or: "I'm really stressed. What should I wear for lunch?" As you'd expect, Miss X's clients are obsessed with facials, Pilates and working out she chooses their workout gear (the latest Stella McCartney and Nike). They tend to have huge, "beautiful" wardrobes, "really big, airy rooms in Kensington houses with double-height ceilings and a huge ottoman in the middle.

You open the husband's cupboard and there's a watch display that revolves every half hour." It's easy to understand why Britain's political parties are all addressing the issue of the super-rich and why, asAlice Thomson notes, also in The Times, even the super-rich are now worried about the super-rich. "Fresh off their helicopters [at the World Economic Forum in Davos], oblivious to the cost of their Swiss hot chocolates, hedge fund managers were given advice on how to flee Europe and buy properties with their own landing strips in New Zealand."

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Good riddance, many of us say.We now have 104 billionaires in Britain, more per head of the population than any other country, "confirming our fear that we have become a magnet for unsavoury characters". All these Russians, Chinese, Saudis, South Americans and Greeks who value our open and stable democracy: do we really need them, even if they do employ chauffeurs, cleaners, personal assistants, florists and armies of builders to build their subterranean basements?

Actually, yes, we do, thinks Thomson. Instead of shunning the super-rich, we should encourage them to settle in "our garden squares" but (and it's an important but) we should also tax them properly. They should pay more than the annual £30,000 levy on their overseas income (soon going up to a still-modest maximum of £90,000), and the council tax system should be adjusted so that you don't pay the same amount for a £1m house as you do for a £10m one. Nor can we continue to allow conglomerates to go on seeing our tax system as "voluntary if they value the loyalty of their customers".

Hear, hear, is what I'd say to that. Most of us don't mind the revolving watchstands or the personal shoppers. But we would like to see the very rich contributing their share of tax, like everybody else.

Tabloid money: "having children you can't afford is not a disability"

Ed Miliband is getting an unwanted reputation to match Prince 'Airmiles' Andrew's for the high cost of his travel arrangements, says Andrew Pierce in the Daily Mail. New figures show the Labour leader's taxpayer-funded bill last year for being chauffeur-driven round the country "while he tried to drum up support for his fading leadership" amounted to £757,000.That works out at £63,000 a month.

"The Greeks have decided that, all things considered, they'd rather not pay off their debts, thank you very much," says Rod Liddle in The Sun. "They've just elected an anti-austerity' party to run what passes for a government. Syriza is the party in charge of the bankrupt country. I think it's Greek for we haven't a f*****g clue what we're going to do, but we're sick of being skint'. The country should never have been allowed into the EU. Keep your eyes on the same sort of thing happening with another basket case, Spain. Funny how these southern Europeans love the benefits of being in the EU but always skedaddle when the bill comes along."

"All week people have been wondering what Apple is going to do with the £12bn it made last year," says Jeremy Clarkson in The Sun, after the US tech firm announced the biggest-ever profit by a listed company. "Well, how is this for an idea? Develop a battery for the iPhone that lasts more than 24 seconds."