25 Apr 2009 Outrage of the Day: Hurting the Nations by Hurting the Rich
A very good column by composer/producer Andrew Lloyd Webber (Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, Cats, The Phantom of the Opera and more) on the pitfalls of raising taxes on the rich is directed at a British audience, but ought to be read by Americans.
Here’s hoping lawmakers on both sides of the Atlantic pay attention.
Andrew Lloyd Webber writes:
The opinion polls have uttered. The country loves the new 50 per cent top rate of income tax. Soak the rich. Smash the bankers…
…I believe that this new top rate of tax could be the final nail in the coffin of Britain plc.
I am 61 years old. I have lived and worked in Britain all my life. Not even in the dark days of penal Labour taxation in the Seventies did I have any intention of leaving the country of my birth…
…I write this article because I fear the inevitable exodus of the talent that can dig us out of the hole we find ourselves in. It is inevitable, given that other countries are bidding for entrepreneurs. The Government must modify its proposals.
I give you this example. I have altered the details of the family I write about for obvious reasons. But the essentials are true.
Last Thursday I met with a thirtysomething guy. I absolutely depend on him in a highly technical area of theatrical production. For legal reasons he has to employ himself through his own company. Under the new tax regime, he will have to pay 13.3 per cent to employ himself before he pays himself anything. And then he will have to pay 51.5 per cent on what’s left.
This is a guy at the cutting edge of his profession who works all over the world. He is in demand in every major territory where entertainment is produced. He has a young wife and two children. Last Thursday he told me that he and his wife had decided that the UK was no longer where they wanted to live.
His wife thinks the State education system is inadequate. And she fears that a bankrupt Britain will increasingly be a worse place in which to live as the horror of our present financial mess hits us all in the solar plexus.
He says that he is young enough to set up shop somewhere else. The new tax rates were the final straw. These talented young people know they will make it impossible for them to educate their kids privately in the UK.
So Britain plc loses not just the 40 per cent he would have paid in personal taxes under the old regime – plus NI and everything else – but… Come on, I don’t need to explain the knock-on effect. It’s obviously huge and immensely damaging – that’s why I am writing this article quickly and probably with too much passion…
…Of course there are thousands of people like my friend – some employing themselves through their own companies, some self-employed, some employed by others. But all are part of the wealth-creation engine that has helped power Britain’s economy…
…So I ask the Government to reconsider what it is doing. More than ever before we need to keep high-flying professionals in the UK. We can’t, as we have done in the past, dump on them through penal personal taxation…
…The next few years are going to be horrendous in the UK. The last thing we need is a Somali pirate-style raid on the few wealth creators who still dare to navigate Britain’s gale-force waters.
Read it all here.