It was telling that in a live BBC interview during the Olympics that Usain Bolt said that he would love to spend more time in the UK, but the tax laws make it not worth his while.
The Taxpayer's Alliance explains why:
Under current rules, athletes competing in the UK are liable to pay tax
on their winnings in addition to paying levies on any of their passive
income such as marketing, sponsorship and image rights deals. Athletes
often have to pay a 50 per cent tax rate on their appearance fee as well
as a proportion of their total worldwide earnings.
No wonder he can't be bothered.
Of course, neither the supposedly "pro low tax" Conservative Party, nor the Liberal Democrat or "opposition in name only" Labour Party agreed with him, largely because all three parties have been embarking on a cannibalistic feeding frenzy on tax for months.
How did he compete in the Olympics then? Simple. The UK Government was told it had to suspend these provisions for the extent of the Olympics:
The International Olympic Committee insisted that HMRC suspended its normal tax regime for those competing in the London 2012 Olympics. London simply wouldn’t have been able to host the Games otherwise. And the Government has also said that tax breaks will be available to the Commonwealth Games and those taking part in the 2017 World Athletics Championships in London.
They've all been claiming how moral it is for people to pay taxes, and how tax avoidance (i.e. legally acting in ways to not pay more tax than you are required to) is immoral. It's been a Marxist orgy of claims that tax avoidance "costs the UK" money, when what is actually meant is that it costs the government - when in fact people with more of their own money tend to invest it or spend it, benefiting them and the people who gain the investment or sell them goods and services.
The classical Marxist bogey of tax avoidance is the stereotype of some rich businessman sitting in a suit with a cigar laughing as he appears to do nothing whilst gaining more and more money. He's probably a banker, or someone who earned lots of money in ways that are "not honourable" to socialists (remember earning a six-figure sum as a politician or unionist is ok though).
Usain Bolt doesn't fit that stereotype. He's loved by millions of fans. Nobody dare utter a criticism of him or the substantial earnings he gets from promotional deals. See it is ok to make money running fast and being attached to ad campaigns, but not to run an advertising company, or manage his investments, or own a hotel he stays at.
Yet the political silence of this issue is palpable. Clearly the tax laws as they stand not only deter the UK from hosting athletics events (when they get hosted they do so with exemptions), but stop people from living and working in the UK as athletes.
It is completely self defeating, it means there is less money in the economy and indeed if Bolt lived in the UK and paid no income tax, the UK would still be better off. This is a man who wouldn't be claiming public housing or welfare benefits, he would be almost certainly never using the NHS (when he can afford private healthcare) and would be paying plenty of VAT on his consumption (and fuel tax and air passenger duty on travelling) to cover a decent contribution to defence, law and order and other state spending.
However, to argue that, Red Ed Miliband, his new sycophants in the Liberal Democrats and the sellout Conservatives would have to admit that, actually, most wealthy people don't cost the state very much at all. They pay their own way, pay for their own housing, education, health care, pensions and by and large only have a role for the state in defence, law and order and the provision of roads.
Because, you see, the underlying reason for the clamour for tax is to take from the rich to give to everyone else.
Now if you were Usain Bolt, earning for a relatively short period of your life, enormous sums of money for promotional campaigns, why would you decide that middle class and low income British deserve to get half of all your earnings, when you can stick to Jamaica?