Wednesday, 22 February 2017
Last updated 6 hours ago
Oct 1 2012 | 6:43am ET
David Harding may not be the most popular man at Mayfair's next charity gala.
The Winton Capital Management founder took aim at his fellow high-earners, arguing that they should pay their fair share in taxes. And he sought to show that he had done his part, revealing that he paid £34 million in levies on his £87 million salary.
"I think the resentment and anger is felt among the middle class," which he called "the backbone of the British nation," over the tax shelters and other schemes used by hedge fund managers and other to reduce or eliminate their tax bills.
"I'd rather not pay the tax," Harding admits. "But everyone is aware that the country has to fill in its budget deficit from somewhere. You can't run a huge deficit forever."
Appealing to his fellow hedgies' patriotism, Harding added, "I'd pay any tax that was vital for my country as long as I didn't feel it was vindictive."
Still, Harding admits he's not "whiter than white," and that he has considered moving to Switzerland or another low-tax jurisdiction, like some of his colleagues did after Britain increased its top rate of tax to 50%.
It "would be impossible for it not to cross your mind," Harding told The Telegraph. But, "I am not sure I would easily find a better place to move to. I speak English, my life is here, I like England and the tax rate is not higher than Scandinavia or the rest of Europe. Taxes in Switzerland are not as low as they used to be. I can't go to the Bahamas. I've got family."
Harding also admits he's not paying as much as he could be, with an overall tax rate of 39%. While that's higher that anyone pays in U.S. federal taxes, it is less than the U.K.'s top rate because most of Harding's salary is in the form of dividends, which are taxed at a lower rate. Still, the Winton chief thinks he passes the "smell test."
"I think that if you want to be accepted by society you have to be seen to be paying your share."