Lewis Hamilton on his Bombarbier jet

Paradise Papers claim Hamilton avoided paying £3.27 million in tax on his jet

2017 F1 season

Posted on

| Written by

Lewis Hamilton has been accused of avoiding a £3.27 million tax bill for his private jet in a huge leak of information known as the Paradise Papers.

The four-times world champion is among those named in the 13.4 million files from two offshore service companies. The documents reveal how several of the world’s richest people use tax havens to shelter their wealth.

Hamilton allegedly used a series of companies known as Stealth Aviation Limited, Stealth Limited and BRV to avoid paying €3.7 million (£3.27 million) in value added tax (VAT) on his Bombardier CL605 Challenger jet, which he has used since 2013.

This is not the first time his tax arrangements have come into question. Hamilton left the UK early in his Formula One career and has since lived in the tax havens of Switzerland and Monaco.

The 32-year-old was named as the richest sportsperson in the UK according to the Sunday Times Rich List this year, which estimated his wealth as being £131 million.

Hamilton has defended his tax arrangements before, telling the same newspaper “people don’t realise I pay tax here, but I don’t earn all my money here.”

“I race in 19 different countries, so I earn my money in 20 different places and I pay tax in several different places, and I pay a lot here as well. I am contributing to the country and, not only that, I help keep a team of more than 1,000 people employed. I am part of a much bigger picture.”

Hamilton’s team Mercedes has been approached for a comment.

2017 F1 season

Browse all 2017 F1 season articles

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

Posted on Categories 2017 F1 season, Lewis Hamilton

Promoted content from around the web | Become a RaceFans Supporter to hide this ad and others

  • 220 comments on “Paradise Papers claim Hamilton avoided paying £3.27 million in tax on his jet”

      1. #stillirisemywealth

    1. Mark Zuckerberg avoids millions in taxes? Oh, pardon him Mr. Judge, think of the thousands of people he employs!
      Still, it’s important to remember that the system makes people do unethical things, but it doesn’t mean the people are evil or unethical. The true criminals are the lawmakers that allow and perpetuate this sort of bullcrap.

      1. And who is bribing, uh sorry, “lobbying” those shady lawmakers to come up with such laws?

        1. Well, I don’t think F1 drivers are, but those very same politicians have off shore accounts, and certainly all the rich people and corporations who put money behind their campaigns have off shore accounts and tax breaks because of those laws.

        2. It is basically an side effect of having massively complex tax regulations. This complexity means that there are many loopholes that are perfectly legal but not necessarily intended. What needs to happen (especially in the UK) is for the tax code to be ripped up and started again and kept much more simple. This will leave far less loopholes to exploit.

          You can hardly blame the people using them though as I am sure there is no one that if told “You can perfectly legally pay less tax if you do this” wouldn’t do it…

      2. That last sentence I agree with. The problem is of course, many of them benefit from it

        1. It’s a matter of rich people taking care of themselves and other rich people. They have money to buy lobbyists which allows them to buy/control politicians. They also have lawyers to get them out of trouble that ordinary people would get into.
          How many people are in jail for stealing some small amount of money or even food. Yet these guys are literally stealing millions and they get away with it all the time.

          And I’m a fairly wealthy person…probably top 2% so this is not sour grapes. It’s simply the reality and it’s embarrassing. We don’t live in the 1700’s with monarchs any longer, so why do we allow this to happen?

          1. Last time I checked we do have a monarch.

            1. Yes we do, they are in the Paradise Papers too, strange no-one has picked on them.

            2. @grumpy Perhaps you should check a news site other than F1Fanatic. There have been stories specifically about the Queen on plenty of sites. But unless Williams have signed the Queen as Felipa Massa’s replacement and I missed the announcement, she’s clearly not going to be the focus of any news stories reported here, is she.

      3. @rahnarlsmenves someone ‘doing unethical things’ is clearly unethical. We can always find someone else to blame

      4. A motorsports fan
        8th November 2017, 7:14

        You just inverted the economics. Zuckerberg should pay taxes as a fee for all the infrastructure and other services (like education of employees, or a legal system) other people have paid for and Zuckerberg uses, and without that infrastructure and services Zuckerberg would be absolutely nothing.

        The myth you are repeating is the typical hocus pocus that some use to hide the fact their lunch is free, but yours is not.

    2. I never understood why people who earn millions try so hard to pay taxes. Yes the taxes are bigger if you earn more, but after earning a few millions, do you really care if you have 10 or 20 millions?
      Honestly, I’d be more understanding if it was people in the lower part of the earning spectrum, trying to avoid taxes, because when you have to try to make end meet each month, it’s understandable that you will think twice about every penny.

      1. do you pay more than you have to? I know i sure don’t and if there was a way to arrange things to pay less i’d do it in a heartbeat. Don’t understand why people get upset about stories like this.

        1. Biggys – I am a tax accountant (and mega F1 fan) but you are missing the point.

          Yes they earn mega money and can afford to pay mega tax, but then you give it to your local government and they pay it out as they see fit- here in Australia usually guys that want to smoke pot & surf.

          Wouldn’t I rather minimise my tax, increase my net wealth and pass it on to my kids and grand
          kids and keep the money in my family rather than give it to a bum who doesn’t want to work???

          1. @evilhomer That local government helps to provide a school for your grandkids and keep their local oval looked after so they can play on it.

            It’s disingenuous to be selective about the things your taxes pay for just to make them look bad and make out that people who find ways to not contribute to them as much as they should are being virtuous.

            1. @willwood
              And not only that, but the most basic things. Water, electricity, roads, city infrastructure, police, firefighters, hospitals, it’s all paid from taxes.
              The only reason government officials are squandering the money, is because those millionaires and billionaires are lobbying and pushing for corrupt and weak government officials, who will then do their bidding.

              It’s the same old excuse US government and their rich lobbyists are giving, about lack of money for healthcare and similar basic human rights, but they have enough money to keep wasting on bombing people on the other side of the world. Wars of the past 17 years have cost US taxpayers 250 million dollars EACH DAY. And who sees the profits from those wars, the wars which are paid for by all of the taxpayers? Only the rich who are shareholders and CEOs of arms companies, oil companies, bankers and similar corporations which are profiting from human misery.

            2. That is the sort of thing greedy people say in order to convince themselves they are not anti-social parasites.

            3. I love how those who can’t criticise those who do.

              Lewis has a right to choose where he lives, and he has an obligation to pay tax where he earns the money. He pays his share, and should not be criticised for being smart and successful.

              As an Australian taxpayer, I utilise the rules to minimise my tax bill. I purchase items that are exempt from GST. I claim every legal deduction that I can. I make sure that business activities are owned and run by a company (which has a lower tax rate in Oz compared to top marginal). And I still pay a lot!

              Meanwhile, there are plenty of whiners and complainers who pay nothing – and collect welfare payments without lifting a finger. They are the true bludgers, who think that they are entitled to what others earn.

          2. I think missing the point is precisely your problem.
            But as you stated, you are a tax accountant and then these ethics make sense, but it doesn’t speak well for you.
            Tax accountants who think like you ARE the core of this problem.

          3. I like this guy. ^^^^

            You hire an accountant or tax guy to maximize your profit.

            They’re not doing it to commit crimes, they’re maximizing your net worth.

            If you’re giving your money away, fill your boots…. I sure won’t be, and neither does Hamilton.

          4. I’m sorry but this is BS. So, you are saying all millionaires who avoid paying taxes are actually political activists going against the man, making a point that regular folks are being robbed? Sorry, I’m not buying it for a second. You either act as a political activist publicly, speak up and try to make a change, or you stick to the rules that are the same for everybody, and you pay your damn taxes. If you don’t, your primary motivation is pretty clear to everyone around – it’s greed – yours and your lawyers.

          5. Uum how often do Australian local governments redistribute taxes and hand out money to alleged marijuana smokers and/or surfers? The answer is pretty obviously never, because local governments don’t tax other than property rates – and Lewis Hamilton not paying his rates isn’t the issue here.

            The presumption that all tax dollars go toward supporting those who don’t want to work is an insult to every non-wealthy individual and, perhaps even more so, to your own intelligence.

            My oh my I’m glad you’re not my accountant.

      2. do you really care if you have 10 or 20 millions?

        Sadly yes, a lot of people do care. Money drives people crazy and those who have everything can’t help but want more. Why have 1 expensive car when you can have 2, why have 2 when you can have 3 and if you’re being taxed higher amounts, you’re going to settle for 3. But if you want that 4th expensive car, well you could either sell one of the 3 you already have or you can avoid your taxes and get that 4th car you really need.

        Just how the world works really. Who knows, if I was a multimillionaire I’d probably be exactly the same.

      3. You have to make your math in percentage, not absolute value. The same thing that for me or you is nothing, like 1 euro to buy a snack while waiting for the metro can make the difference between eating and not eating for someone else.

        The same applies to those expenses that we find crazy made by wealthy people. 50 millions for a car? 2 thousands for a smartphone? 10 millions for taxes? It’s all relative to one’s income and wealth.

        I would care about how much money I earn that doesn’t end up in my pockets wether its 1, 1’000 or 1’000’000.

      4. I think Ecclestone has said that money as such means nothing to him but if he makes a lot of money, then he knows that he has done a good deal and that matters. That is probably how most multimillionaires think. Hamilton obviously knows that “everyone” tries to avoid paying taxes so he just does not want to feel like one of those poor losers, who are ready to pay whatever their countries ask of them. Also, he probably feels that he has worked very hard to earn his money and is reluctant to part with it. But I believe it is mostly about an informal competition among tax avoiders.

      5. It wouldnt pay off as much.
        The amount has to be significant to be really beneficial.
        People in the lower spectrum simply cant afford the Accountant to make it happen.

        But I fully understand Hamilton it doesnt matter how rich you get. Saving almost €4m will be tempting at any point.

        If you have a different opinion I dont believe you are going to be a rich person anytime soon =)

        1. I’m not rich but I’ve met a lot of people who are through my work. One of the things that they all seem to share is the use of money to keep score. So it’s person X has 10 million so I need 20 million to show I’m twice as good. That sort of thing. It’s really petty!

      6. but after earning a few millions, do you really care if you have 10 or 20 millions?

        Many people where I come from would probably wonder the same about whatever income you make. Do you not want more, given the chance though?

        Besides, if you just invest the money and use that as your only source of income (the ability to do which while staying financially OK being a valid reason to want more millions – just like on the loweer end of the spectrum people want to be able to make ends meet without welfare), AFAIK 20mil does take one a good bit further than 10mil

      7. The wording is not really correct. Hamilton is not using a Tax Avoidance scheme. He is using a tax reducing scheme. There is a very big difference in terms of the law. Tax Avoidance is a crime while legally reducing your tax bill is not. (Cash in hand is tax avoidance for instance). Hamilton tells Her Majesties Revenue and Customs everything he earns and everything he owns etc. So he is not avoiding tax he is merely using (or at least his accountants are) the massively complex tax code in the UK which creates considerable numbers of loopholes. (For instance if you own a small business you can not use travel expenses to offset your tax if you are the only employee. This sounds a little unfair doesn’t it? However if you simply employ someone (ie your wife) for a couple of hours a week then you suddenly have a second employee and can now use the travel expenses to offset your tax despite the same amount of money coming in to your household… This is perfectly legal and many very small businesses do this as it makes little sense not to)

        He is also not trying really hard to not pay taxes. He hires accountants and it is their job to look after his financial affairs and as part of that they know how to reduce his tax bill.

        You can’t really blame him as all of us pay as little tax as we legally can.

        1. I don’t think “tax avoidance” is criminal but “tax evasion” most certainly is. Every accountant that ever practised uses such schemes to reduce their clients tax bill and thus hike their own fees. If a company makes a profit in the UK the directors are faced with a clear choice: buy a Rolls Royce or pay corporation tax. The former is not illegal and it will be the first choice of 99% of company directors. As such the system is to blame, not the individual. But those that create wealth (your entrepreneurial millionaires) also generate millions in taxes through PAYE and indirect taxation. Many recent UK elections have been fought on the platform of “lower taxes” which is quite ridiculous because if you can’t raise the tax, you cannot pay for your health or your elderly. Ask the Northern European population how they feel about taxes! Highest in the world but they get a decent health system and aftercare. Whether Lewis Hamilton pays £10 million or £20 million in tax is immaterial as the burden of taxation (at least in the UK) falls on the working man. If you are domiciled in the UK, then pay your taxes, if not then pay the taxes at the level imposed by your adopted country of residence. Lewis worked hard for his money and has a rare talent which will desert him in about 5 years, so then he can become a postman! Of course he’s going to minimise his tax burden.

          1. Are you insane. Who do you think pays PAYE and indirect taxes???

    3. Did you write an article about Rosberg when his name came up in the Panama papers in 2015?

        1. It was mentioned, is not the same as writing an entire article about it.

          1. Mr KGN11 unregistered anonymous. Might it have something to do with the fact that Lewis is a British citizen and Rosberg is not, and that this is a British based site? I could care less about Rosberg tax affairs. Actually, I could care less about Lewis’s too! I know what you and your ilk are trying to imply and it won’t wash mate. Go peddle it somewhere else.

        2. So the answer is NO. Gotcha!

      1. Kng11
        Fair point. You make some good point so why not sign up with the forum?

      2. Oh, for crying out loud. It’s not a conspiracy against Lewis. Stop being so over-sensitive on behalf of some sportsman who’s not even aware that you exist.

        1. @jules-winfield, I don’t think it is so much about a “conspiracy towards Lewis” as much as the fact that every single F1 champion from 1985 to today has been a tax exile, yet it feels that the complaints over their tax affairs is comparatively small.

          We’ve not see Damon Hill, for example, having his financial affairs raked over (with suggestions he may have made use of the controversial “Double Irish” tax system to minimise his taxes, whilst simultaneously being resident in Monaco), nor those of Button (after moving to Monaco via Jersey – his one off appearance in the Monaco GP was probably the easiest trip to the paddock he’d made in a while).

          Few have grumbled much about Vettel and Raikkonen being domiciled in Switzerland – I don’t think that their moves to Switzerland were even mentioned on this site – whilst Nico Rosberg, like his father, has been domiciled in Monaco for decades (which makes you wonder why Nico even needed to route his salary via Panamanian and Channel Island shell companies in the first place).

          Nobody ever seemed to be bothered about Hakkinen moving to Monaco either, nor Jacques Villeneuve moving to Andorra – even the current darling of the media, Max Verstappen, has openly said that he wants to move to Monaco in order to pay less tax, and yet his tax affairs have received pretty negligible attention.

          1. I think VET’s living in CH is something that’s been mentioned here (or have I confused it with another site?), but RAI living in CH as well is news to me.

      3. Gerulf Dösinger (@)
        6th November 2017, 20:20

        It’s funny how selective people are when it comes to blaming Keith – the journalist who provides us with reports&info – for favouritism no matter which way the articles “lean”.

        Just as a reminder: I remember how two years ago there was an article on here titled “Why Hamilton deserves to be a three-times champion” https://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2015/10/27/why-hamilton-deserves-to-be-a-three-times-champion/

        1. @wildrover84 you are talking chalk and cheese, nobody has said that Hamilton’s abiliities as a racing champion are not being recognised, the issue here is tax avoidence by the rich of the motorsport or sport in general, which is quite legal by the way, but you can scuttle in your own parallel universe if is that what you want!

          1. Gerulf Dösinger (@)
            7th November 2017, 10:13

            @jagged-jake Um, I was referring to a former comment that was blaming Keith for being ‘against’ Hamilton and pointed out that – as a journalist – he purely reports on what is happening not taking any side.

            But yea, reading is hard, I know.

            1. You meant “comprehension” :)

      4. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists who have broken the Paradise Papers leak have given a disclaimer and I think it is appropriate to mention this here.
        “There are legitimate uses for offshore companies and trusts. We do not intend to suggest or imply that any people, companies or other entities included in the ICIJ Offshore Leaks Database have broken the law or otherwise acted improperly”
        I see no suggestive implication in the article. In fact, it has been adequately balanced with Hamilton’s explanation. On whether there should be a separate article, the answer is yes. Lewis Hamilton is an international sportsman as well as a global celebrity, While Rosberg was also an international sportsman, he was and still is most certainly a lesser known celebrity. A quick comparison of the number of Instagram followers would to an extent substantiate my statement.

      5. Kgn11,
        Maybe if Nico was a four time champion, Keith would have written that article. Lewis is very famous as a great driver, so obviously his morally questionable accounting choices are fair game to discuss in the popular media.
        On another note, I agree with others here- It is time that you signed in to the forum so that we can see once and for all which drivers you support ;)…

    4. tgu (@thegrapeunwashed)
      6th November 2017, 13:00

      The people screaming about this will be the likes of: News International, The Telegraph, The Independent, The Guardian; all owned by non-dom billionaires and off-shore trusts. No big name F1 drivers pay tax in their birth country – why’s it only a story when Hamilton is involved?

      1. Doesn’t Alonso still live in Spain?

        1. He lives in Dubai. Funnily enough they don’t charge income tax there.

            1. https://www.formula1.com/en/latest/interviews/2016/8/f1-and-me-exclusive-fernando-alonso-interview.html

              According to this he lives in Dubai. So he must have gone Spain — Switzerland — Spain —- Dubai. They all spend so much time on the road that “live” is a pretty relative term.

          1. If this appears to be LH being singled out, it is only because he has just achieved his 4th WDC and is front row centre as a headline maker right now. Many many athletes and business people have had their tax situation aired for public consumption for years now. But they just aren’t always in the spotlight and therefore ‘newsworthy’ like LH is right now.

            I suspect that LH is doing nothing illegal, and that indeed it is not even so much LH as his money people that work for him that try to shelter his money for him as much as possible, like most of us do. And even if LH had severed ties completely with Britain (doesn’t sound like he has)..no residence there, no investments there whatsoever…doesn’t even pay his parents’ property taxes for them, he still injects millions into the British economy as a top global athlete and a draw for people.

            Who is anybody, that they can dictate where a person lives? After that, if a person chooses to live where taxes are much less, is it the fault of the athlete, musician, business mogul, what have you, that there are beautiful countries to live in the world where it isn’t all about politicians taking as much money as they can from people like it’s a bottomless pit, only to mismanage it and keep increasing taxes as their only answer to their own ineptness?

            1. Why was Jenson’s not aired in the public limelight? How about Jackie Stewart? How about Mansell? How about Coulthard? The list is endless. And this is not the first time he has been singled out, it’s one of the sticks being used to beat him with

            2. Can you name another famous person who wangled a £3m+ VAT refund by buying a jet for business use via a string of companies called ‘Stealth…’ based in tax havens and then uses the jet 25% of the time for private use? That’s why he has been ‘singled out’.
              And they can live where they like but when they live in place A and then ‘domicile’ themselves taxwise in a totally different country where they may not even visit, it all looks very underhand.

            3. @kgn11 This insistence of your’s that LH is singled out is nonsense, other than it is because he just won his 4th WDC and so is a hot commodity for headlines, and his name just appeared in the Paradise Papers.

              The other drivers you’ve cited simply aren’t in the headlines lately, so their names aren’t going to be nearly as compelling right now. You should take LH’s popularity as a compliment. That he is evading taxes is commonplace as I believe you say elsewhere, so I don’t know why you think all others doing it should be mentioned when it is discovered what LH is doing too, and he’s on a high right now in popularity.

              For the heck of it I googled some of the drivers you cite, and sure enough there is info on their tax evading as well. So it’s not like they haven’t had their day in the spotlight when it comes to taxes as well. The spotlight just happens to be on LH right now. You should be happy.

              I did find one thing quite interesting…apparently Jackie Stewart was in the 90 to 95% tax bracket back when he sought tax exile, based on his income and the tax structure at the time. I think anyone looking to have to forfeit up to 95% of their income is being robbed plain and simple by their government and basically encouraged to leave or work for peanuts.

              Anyway my point is you are paranoid and once LH is no longer the main man in F1, so will the stories on him wain.

            4. In reply to “mrfill” below, you are assuming that he is guilty of avoiding tax because of an article in the press which has not proven anything as I believe they claim he “may have” …. why is it that no-one here knows Hamilton’s tax arrangements, how much he pays or where he pays them yet you are all experts on his financial arrangements.
              With regards to all the whiter than white folks on here, they would do nothing different if they were in his position, oh I hear what they say but words come cheap and reality is usually a little different.

        2. tgu (@thegrapeunwashed)
          6th November 2017, 15:37

          SM, Alonso was named on the Falciani list (along with Briatore and Kovalainen, another driver managed by Briatore) as a tax evader. He threatened to sue for libel in 2015, but nothing has been heard since –

      2. The Scott Trust, which owns the Guardian, is a British-based limited liability company that pays no dividends.

        1. Duncan Snowden
          6th November 2017, 18:17

          That’s “Scott Trust Ltd.”. The Scott Trust was wound up in 2008. For tax reasons.

          And what holding company in the Cayman Islands? Look! Rupert Murdoch strangling a squirrel!

          (Not that I’m condemning any of this. Perfectly sensible. But the hypocrisy is… hilarious.)

    5. I imagine he’s in the same boat as a lot of these footballers currently being caught out doing similar things. Drops off the keys to his money with an accountant and doesn’t care what happens after that, as long as the results look nice. I can’t honestly see him personally researching and overseeing something like this…

      Not that I think there’s anything massively wrong with anyone doing this. It rankles with my sense of fair play but a lot of the fault lies with the loopholes, not the exploiters…

      1. I can’t honestly see him personally researching and overseeing something like this…

        Well no, but he presumably asked why he had to stop in his new plane for 50 minutes on some tarmac on the Isle of Man so it could be registered there as part of a ‘leasing business.’

      2. I believe the footballers you refer to hare being investigated for “Tax Evasion” not “Tax Avoidance” which according to the experts is actually legal, it may be wrong but that’s life.

    6. Right, this may not be popular, but I’ll say it anyway. Do you know what Hamilton avoiding paying £3,270,000 of UK tax is? Clever. End of story. He, and everyone else “implicated” in these papers, is doing what they can to maximise their income and they are doing nothing wrong.

      I am a lawyer practicing in the UK and a big chunk of my practice is working to help people purchase commercial and residential properties in the UK. 9 times out of 10 those properties are purchased using offshore structures. It is a fact of life and anyone who cries foul does not understand how these things work. These aren’t murky structures, cunningly thought up in smoke filled rooms, they are actually relatively simple structures thought up by reasonably clever lawyers to reduce (note that word) the owner’s tax liability in legal ways. Let’s also be clear, tax still gets paid when these structures are used (at least in the property context). It is just paid as a tax on dividends, which is levied a lower rate, rather than tax on income (i.e. rent). It is good business, plain and simple.

      1. @geemac – thanks for that explanation; oftentimes when “tax havens” and “shell corporations” are written about, there is often an implicit subtext that it is illegal (and yes, concocted in movie-like dark & smoky rooms); good to have that brief summary explaining how it works.

      2. @geemac Nobody is saying it’s illegal but it’s unethical. That is the problem. Money buys you ability to hire people to look for loopholes in a rule book. People like you enable the rich to be unethical with tax paying. Yes the tax system needs reforming to not allow this but you and your clients should still know its wrong. Money however makes you justify it as ok…

        1. @ivan-vinitskyy – Your comment “Money buys you ability to hire people to look for loopholes in a rule book” makes me wonder how you can be a Formula One fan. I’m glad you are, but it must be difficult to square up.

          1. @tribaltalker It’s not so easy, true but F1 is a sport where finding loopholes is part of the game and yes more money gives you better chances. However F1 is a game you sign up for, and you know the terms before you sign up. Tax paying is something you don’t really have control over. I’m of course talking about an average person. Poorest or average team can stop taking part…

            1. @ivan-vinitskyy Paying taxes is not a game you sign up for, so it makes sense that people don’t want to play that game. Or as little as possible.

        2. This is why I commented. It isn’t wrong, its just business. You have to pay the tax that HMRC says you have to pay and no more. There is no obligation on you to pay over the odds if you can legally structure your affairs in such a way that reduces your tax bill. You could do this if you wanted. You’d just need to pay the legal fees of a half decent law firm and you’d be a for away.

          I ask you two simple questions: Are you legally obliged to go to Waitrose and pay £2 for a loaf of bread if Aldi offers the same product to you for £0.50? Are Waitrose morally wrong for charging more for the same item?

          1. @geemac What kind of example is this? I’ll give you another silly one too if you like bread so much. Waitrose is a bit like taking my £2, keeping 10p and giving £1.90 worth of bread to 10 hungry kids. Aldi is taking my £0.50, keeping £0.40 and give another £0.10 to you because you know how to avoid feeding hungry kids.

            Aldi and you win at the expense of hungry kids but hey, you know a ‘legal’ way so I guess that’s ok…

            1. I was just trying to make the point that, if faced with two legal options, most humans would opt for the cheaper one.

              What really annoys me is that tax avoidance is everywhere. Anyone commenting have a company car? That’s tax avoidance, shame on you. Anyone invested in an ISA? That’s tax avoidance, shame on you.

            2. I don’t really see how its unethical at all @ivan-vinitskyy . Yes, Hamilton and the super rich earn a lot of money, but they also pay a lot of tax on that. There is always a massive chunk of money they can’t avoid paying which, to be honest, would likely be more tax than I’ll pay in my whole lifetime. They will get much less out of services in the UK ( Likely to have private health schemes so not reliant on the NHS, not a full time resident to take advantage of council services, pay for own security etc etc. Yes, it would be nice if the super-rich paid in more but I can’t blame them for not doing so, especially if Hamilton is only in the Uk for a few weeks of the year.

            3. Avoidance is accepted as good practice, within reason – if you can afford to manage it without being tripped over, fair enough. I have salary sacrifice at work and it’s also how childcare vouchers are doled out, which is a government supported scheme.

              The question is whether Hamilton and co are *evading* tax.

            4. Jack (@jackisthestig)
              6th November 2017, 20:18

              Oh dear, is that violin music I can hear?

          2. That’s not a valid comparison at all. It actually beggars belief that you even think think that it is. That’s the free market. People willingly go to Waitrose and pay extra for a load of bread because of the perceived quality, etc. That’s hardly grounds to complain – no-one’s forcing you to do so.

            No-one’s arguing (I hope) that Lewis and all the other people have acted illegally. The argument is whether what they’re doing is right from an ethical point of view. Is tax avoidance something to be applauded or accepted as “good”? Evidently a lot of people think not because it seems unfair to the rest of us, who don’t try and scheme ways to avoid paying all that we can. Using Lewis as an example, he deservedly earns tens of millions of dollars per year. Why then does he need to try and skip paying millions in tax? Is he going to miss £3.27 million? He may not like paying tax, but it’s necessary to support the functions of government – healthcare, crime prevention, transportation infrastructure, defence, etc. It makes him look rather selfish, to be honest (and I don’t think Lewis is that selfish).

            Compare that with Joe and Jill who live in a three-bedroom house with their young family and who scrape by month to month and who think they’re doing well if they save £3.27 per month. If they avoided tax, they’d be in a whole heap of trouble.

            As a lawyer, you’re surely familiar with the maxim that justice must not only be done, but must be seen to be done as well. In other words: perception is important. Tax avoidance looks bad, even if legally it’s fine.

          3. I was with you until you gave that terrible bread example!

            It’s unethical to tax dodge to this extent. It’s also clever, but you reap what you sow. I’m afraid it doesn’t look good for Hamilton.

        3. You dont need a lot of money to pay for someone to do this. You need a reasonable amount to make it worth while of course (it’s a lot less than you think), but using the systems to avoid tax is pretty easy to do. Your not paying someone to be sly, secretive, hush money. Your paying them to act out what most accountants know how to do. What you do need is an accountant with knowledge and connections to these “shell” companies and who wants to do this.

        4. @ivan-vinitskyy There’s nothing whatever ‘unethical’ about tax avoidance, immoral possibly.

      3. Thank you! What Lewis, Jenson, DC, Stewart etc etc are all doing is a very common practice amongst high net worth individuals. It’s not illegal, but rather very smart business acumen.

        1. @kgn11 Oh sure, avoid including Rosberg as those using smart business acumen, and instead make him part of the ‘etc etc’. Why? Why is he being singled out unfairly?

          Seriously though, I think we are avoiding what this topic might actually be about. It might be about LH potentially doing something illegal, whereas we’ve made it about the morals and ethics of living in tax havens, and about wealthy people sheltering money in offshore accounts in order to reduce their tax bill in their home country.

          Wherever LH and many other F1 drivers past and present lives is up to him/them. That’s fine. I believe him that he hasn’t severed ties so completely with the UK that he doesn’t pay a penny there. I’m sure he has some interests in the UK and pays some tax.

          It is also fine that he uses offshore accounts to shelter money. Also a legal loophole that the wealthy can and do take advantage of, the morals and ethics of that being up to the individual, be they the person doing it, or the rest of the people that don’t.

          But this issue might actually be about whether or not LH allegedly went too far by using three companies to, as I see it, create a smoke and mirrors shell game, to then avoid paying the taxes in question on his plane.

          I’ll assume that since this story has been made public, there are people investigating the activities of those in the Paradise Papers. I’m sure many investors are simply on the up and up and are, whether it’s moral or ethical or not, perfectly fine doing what they are doing. Some however, I’m sure, have stretched the boundaries of it, and may indeed be doing something illegal and not part of the loopholes that are legal. The question is…is LH doing something illegal by using three ‘companies’ with the result being paying no tax on his plane? We can’t possibly know that from our armchairs. Living in Monaco, and using an offshore account, is only the surface of this topic. Underlying it is the use of three companies to avoid paying taxes.

      4. I get what you are saying there @geemac. But I don’t fully agree since there are far too many cases of hiding money from corruption, hiding ties with dictatorial regimes, stolen money and plain tax dodging with these structures.
        I’m not too bothered by the likes of sporters like Hamilton doing this (or indeed paying a team of people to do so), but the system is far too obscured and lacks any transparency or solid checks and balances for the good of humanity. I hope we’ll manage to change it to take away many of those worries.

      5. It is good business, plain and simple.

        It’s also removing millions in potential tax revenue from investment in education, healthcare etc. It’s legal because legal loopholes exist. That doesn’t mean that they couldn’t and shouldn’t be closed. Without picking on Hamilton specifically, the amount off-shored worldwide is in the trillions, bigger than the economies of the US and Japan combined. That’s money the already extremely wealthy are hoarding at the expense of those in their own society – people of the kind Hamilton presumably knew as a child – who really need better living conditions and educational chances. What ethical justification is there for not contributing? It’s pure cynicism.

        1. Those trillions are funding the economies of the countries that allow these structures to exist. They made a decision to make themselves an attractive place to invest…if companies registered in the likes of the BVI, Cayman, Jersey, Guernsey to name a few it would kill their economies. What happens to the people of those places then? Countries make decisions about tax and have to live by them. You can’t cry foul when other places make themselves more attractive to investment than you do.

          It’s like the 49 other US States ganging up on Delaware because it made itself an easy place to set up US businesses…

          1. Trillions to sustain the population of the Channel Islands? Whose inhabitants are mostly (hugely) wealthy anyhow?
            And what exactly is being ‘invested’ in these tax havens? The answer: virtually nothing in proportion to the wealth being hoarded in them. They’re a front, a façade for re-channelling finance globally. Surely you realize that?

            1. I realise it. You also realise (i) that, as much as the UK may want it, it can’t dictate to other countries how they structure their affairs, (ii) that this practice goes far beyond Hamilton and (iii) can’t simply be stopped with a swipe of the legislator’s pen.

            2. @geemac For service companies in most countries (including the British Virgin Islands which you cited), points (i) and (iii) stand. However, the Isle of Man (where Hamilton imported the plane), the Cayman and Channel Islands (which you cited) are under the dominion of the British government. Preventing these things would be as simple as a legislative body ruling that no British location could be used as a tax haven – literally a swipe of the legislator’s pen. Of course, many people would move their high-earnings transactions elsewhere, which is a fear politicians in the UK worry about a lot, but it is a valid choice of governance.

              I am sure that, one way or another, Lewis’ accountants would have found a tax-free (or almost-tax-free) way of getting Lewis his plane. He is a specific example of someone whose tax affairs can only be expected to be complicated. However, this does not mean it is necessary for specific countries to roll out the welcome mat to such evasion unless they see an upside to it for them. In the UK’s case, the government hasn’t really made the upside it perceives clear despite the decades it’s approved of tax havens in its territories.

      6. There’s nothing clever about evading a few hundred people who are ordered to focus on small-time accounts rather than do much of anything against larger ones. To take an example, in the UK, the number of people who are allowed to investigate tax loopholes for big earners is 300 (and it got cut back about 18 months ago). The number who are allowed to report on small accounts (to which the government owes more money than it is owed)? 3000. In the current context, tax evasion is just exploiting an open goal.

        True, the blame lies with the governments and tax offices for blatantly ridiculous loopholes issuing from over-complicated, inefficient tax protocols, as well as the people who deliberately try to push open the loopholes (rather than the accountants who use the pre-existing loopholes to do their jobs, and their clients who probably have no idea what their money does all day, beyond “increase”). However, it only avoids being a crime due to sloppy rule-writing and sloppier enforcement. (Those of you who recall my stance on track limits can probably guess that my negativity on that is based on the same line of thinking as my negativity regarding tax loopholes).

      7. Just because it’s legal, doesn’t mean it’s ethical. Hamilton like a lot of other celebrities seems to trade off being from such and such place, and that is the place that made them the person they are, but then at the same time actively do everything they can to avoid contributing (by paying their fair share of tax) to the society they so proudly peg their heritage to.

        I find it strange when regular people defend mega rich tax cheats, like they are one lucky break away from also being mega rich. When the mega rich and corporations don’t pay their fair share of tax it means the rest of us end up paying more tax to cover for the people. It means the most of us are actually worse off.

        1. Since when you you become an expert on Hamilton’s financial situation.

      8. Thank you …. some sense at last.

      9. @geemac

        Right, this may not be popular, but I’ll say it anyway. Do you know what Hamilton avoiding paying £3,270,000 of UK tax is?

        Science

        1. But Hamilton did pay the VAT. He then received a full refund on the basis that the plane was to be used for business. Private use is not VAT exempt. The papers show he planned to use the plane for 80hours/month privately and 160hrs for business and on that basis was only due a refund of two-thirds. Claiming a refund on a false premise is not avoidance.

          1. Presumably his accountants have him paying personal cash rental for his private use of the plane to the business(es) that own &/or lease the plane so, while it is private use, he pays for it (like anyone else who rents a private plane would – err, not me!) albeit to his own company(s). Thus it is one company or another that leases out the plane that was entitled to the VAT rebate as that company only uses the plane for business purposes. Maybe it’s all the same money, but that’s what you pay accountants for. If you don’t like it, outlaw it.

      10. Go Lewis Go!
        Listening to all of the howling dogs is hilarious!

    7. Ham is absolutely right about this.

      FWIW: basically all people are better off with Ham having, spending, investing this money than any government having it. I could make long arguments now why, or I can make it short by saying, just look at socialistic/communistic countries. E.g. just analyze what happens in Venezuela. The thing is that it doesn’t matter how socialized a country is, it is always the same principle, and the effects in this case do not change depending on absolute or relative amount. Small amounts have small negative effects, large amounts have large negative effects.

      At least that is my opinion. And I really read a book or two… about it, coming from all sides. So I did my homework.

      1. @skylien So… just Ham knows how to spend his money better, and the rest of us don’t know? This isn’t an argument about paying taxes or not. It’s mostly about equality, and him paying the same as others. I don’t necessarily agree with progressive tax but some people / organizations are taking tax avoidance to the extremes.

        1. @ivan-vinitskyy

          Unfortunately you are not understanding what I am saying at all…

          1. Well, it was fairly incoherent.

            1. @jules-winfield

              Well, it is not a matter of incoherence but one of effort you need to put in to understand all of it. Unfortunately I am not able to explain such a complicated matter in one comment here, neither am I motivated enough to even try. I wanted to express my opinion since I know I am fairly alone with that one, though I was on your side before my investigations as basically everyone is who only thinks superficially about it when he reads some news article like this one about it. And I’d hope that some people like you might be tempted in actually investigating matters like this properly.

          2. When was the last time Hamilton bought a school?

      2. Since when has Hamilton lived in a ‘socialist’ country? We’re talking about avoiding the relatively low levels of high-income taxation in countries like the UK (or the US). What you’re implying is that all taxation and subsequent government spending is somehow ‘socialist,’ which is pure nonsense, whatever books you’ve read. Try reading some other ones, maybe.

        1. @david-br

          I have not said that. Also the principle of government spending the money is always the same. Else try explain at which level it starts to be different.

        2. @david-br Actually we’re not talking about income tax at all. The information released in the Paradise Papers shows that Hamilton (and he’s by no means alone in this) set up a shell company in the IOM which could lease the jet purchased by his other aviation company in the BVI – by doing so, it means that he can claim VAT back on the purchase as long as it’s for business use. However in this case, it’s not purely for business use so the refund of VAT appears to have been made in error.

          1. True, I was replying to skylien’s more general comment about government spending of tax revenue in general. But you’re right, this is about VAT evasion.

        3. @david-br

          I wouldn’t describe 45% tax on income as being low.

          LH only gets away with such aggressive tax avoidance because all the other “Talent” do the same and it’s an established routine.

          Most people you see on TV, hear on the radio, or generally have the ability to have their earnings paid to a company they control do absolutely the same, whether it’s the uk or any other 1st or 2nd world country.

          Simplify the tax system & standardise the rules. Make it so that someone rich can only do it if someone on PAYE can too.

          I’m all for my employer providing me a car, paying my fuel or train fare other expenses etc and I get to pay the same taxes but just on my salary. Would put leave more money in my pocket, would put more money in the economy too, but some see this as unfair hence why it’s taxed, yet the rich can sidestep that.

      3. @skylien Surely that is very dependent on whether he actually spends it or not or if it just sits in an account/investment somewhere which is more likely.

        Also, the £3.2m he has avoided paying is another £3.2m that the government in question has had to stump up to cover it’s services/benefits that it wouldn’t have had to do if he had paid it.

        1. ….and by “government in question” of course I mean tax payer.

        2. @asanator

          No I am of the opinion that what I am saying does not depend on that.

        3. @asanator

          Also the government taking 3.2m from Ham means taking 3.2m income from other people, no matter actually if Ham spends it on consumption, invests it or even in the very unlikely case Ham just took the money and literally burned it (that would just be a deflationary effect on prices, so in our case that would mean usually less inflation, which means the purchasing power of all other people would go up by 3.2m in total).

          1. @skylien The fact that Hamilton hasn’t paid his £3.2m into the public coffers means that it is £3.2m short. The UK (as an example as I’m not sure if it is due here) is current running a budget deficit so it has to borrow money to meet it’s annual expenditure. Therefore it has had to borrow an additional £3.2m to cover the amount that wasn’t paid in taxes.

            1. @asanator

              I know what you mean. What I am saying is that the UK should spend less and all would be better off. Also Ham did nothing illegal as far as I know, so even from your own stand point it is highly questionable to say he hasn’t paid if there was nothing to pay in the first place. I mean you (if you’d be from the UK) could have paid more if you wanted to as well, I am sure. And just as Ham you are right not to. It is better for you and the people around you.

    8. captain tuna fish
      6th November 2017, 13:29

      And if he bought it before 2010 he would not have payed any VAT on it.

    9. As far as I can tell what Hamilton did was avoid paying UK taxes, he didn’t evade paying UK taxes. So Hamilton used legal means to reduce his tax bill, not illegal means. I wouldn’t be surprised if Hamilton did pay tax on his aircraft, he just didn’t pay UK taxes.

    10. “I race in 19 different countries, so I earn my money in 20 different places”

      I don’t really get this. He’s paid by his employer – Mercedes, and his sponsors. He might also earn money from his own business enterprises, if he has any, which again has nothing to do with racing in 19 different places.
      I’ve never heard of there being prize money from race organizers. Is there?

      1. @damon Follow the money chain…
        Race organizers, broadcasters and advertisers are all over the world. They pay FOM who then pays F1 teams who then pay Ham and other employees. Income tax is a tax on a possibility to earn in that country. Exactly how did UK allow Hamilton make money in Brazil for example?

      2. A good example of this is Usain Bolt who in a season may race in the World Indoor Championships in Bradford, the Olympics in China and some other events around the world. He will be required to pay tax on endorsements in those jurisdictions he has competed in for that season. It’s complicated stuff but to simplify he just like Hamilton is a world athlete and his tax bill reflects this. Most folk avoid tax using ISAs, our better half tax threshold, moving from property A to property B for 6 months prior to selling so no CGT is due etc.

        1. I don’t think this applies to team sports people.

          1. I don’t know if this is a good example but NFL players pay taxes depending on the city they play in that week. So each game cheque is taxed depending on where you play. And they are certainly a team sport.

            It depends on how his contract is structured. But I’d assume for the bonuses for race wins, in case they are taxable, he has to pay for those taxes depending on the country which he races in. Or maybe he’s paid as a lump some at the beginning/end of the season.

      3. Interestingly, some tax jurisdictions would disagree. Last time F1 raced in France, the drivers were required to pay the appropriate level of tax on the fraction of their racing calendar competing at the French Grand Prix. According to the September 2007 edition of F1 Racing, this was one reason (among several) that the decision to drop the race was not met with much protest from the drivers.

        Canada and the USA also used to charge tax, albeit the relatively low cap they used ($10,000) meant that few drivers paid what would have been their regular share of tax, and those drivers who paid for a seat (logically) didn’t pay the tax. France’s, as far as I know, was not capped.

        Other Grands Prix and their governments, from what I could tell, found this method of deciding tax liability a bit bemusing.

    11. I race in 19 different countries, so I earn my money in 20 different places(…)

      Sorry Lewis but that is not how income, and income taxes, work ;)

      Nevertheless the article only mentions not paying VAT and that is a consumer’s tax (money spent) not related to income tax (money earned).
      And he most likely did a legal thing (as many people buy stuff for them using a company so that it is a company’s expense and not a personal buy). It is just a bit immoral because “normal” people cannot avoid paying the taxes and when people with more money avoid paying them others will eventually be charged (directly or indirectly) to compensate those tax losses…
      But of course this is a problem with many people, Hamilton is just one of them and he does because his accountant or tax advisor tells him to do it, for sure…

      1. Usain Bolt refused to race in the U.K. a few years ago because HMRC tax laws stated that any money he earned in the U.K, would result in them taxin his worldwide income.

        So Lewis is correct

      2. @bakano

        https://www.gov.uk/tax-foreign-income

        Exactly how it works.

        Firstly, his permanent residence is in Monaco, so he is not domiciled in the UK. Second, he would have to spend more than 183 days of the tax year in the UK to be automatically considered resident. For some of his earnings he may pay tax on it both here AND another country, and then claim some form of tax credit back. Basically, tax is hard, and speculating over Hamilton’s tax affairs without knowing the FULL picture is pretty pointless.

        1. @fluxsource
          I think my small sentence “it is not how it works” was very simple. You agreed with me that it is not dependent on where he is physically working but on where you live (your residence). Look, Lewis is saying “I get money in 20 different countries” and it does not matter where you get your money (and also the fact that Lewis races in different countries does not mean he gets payed in those countries, he gets his main salary from a company either registered in Germany or in the UK).
          I was not saying that Lewis needs to pay income taxes in the UK, I was just commenting that it has nothing to do on where you actually do your work.
          I believe that you agree with that statement.

          But as I said, the issue with the jet purchase is not related to income taxes but VAT. And you pay VAT on where you buy the product. Even tourists when shopping in the UK pay VAT (some of them they can get back on duty free).

      3. I believe Lewis as well as other atheletes do indeed get taxed depending on the country they are performing in.

        Not to have a go at him, but it’s entirely possible the main reason for the private jets is to get the hell out of the countries with higher rates before midnight.
        I do recall whispers of Lewis not attending a Silverstone party or function on a Sunday night after a race, for this very reason. Imagine going on chat shows on the Monday and Tuesday and your tax bill goes up by several hundred grand!

        1. It could even be part of the 183-day rule: each day he gets out before midnight (even going one minute over counts as a complete day for UK tax purposes) could be converted later to a complete day of doing something he’d enjoy more, such as being with family, visiting the factory, or even a complete day of PR (where there’s more scope for variety than just “Ooh, we need to wrap this up because it has to be edited in time for the 5:30 am breakfast news…”

      4. Sorry Lewis but that is not how income, and income taxes, work ;)

        I’m know little on taxes, but I think you err.
        Shouldn’t income tax should be paid in the country you receive it in? Say a person sells or maintains Mercedes motor cars, don’t they pay income tax in the country they earnt their money, in this case selling or maintaining cars in? Even if you happened to do only ever do “in warranty” repairs, so that in theory your employer is Daimler AMG in Germany, you still pay local income tax. Shouldn’t the same apply to someone who drives for Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport or Daimler AMG? Since Hamilton does the work in this or that country, then technically he is correct: he should pay taxes in that country where he did the work.

        1. @drycrust,

          Rues for income taxes change from country to country but most of the european countries have similar ones. Income taxes are paid usually where you live. and you should declare income obtained in other countries. that is the main reason a lot of sport athletes move to Monaco, because there are no income taxes there (even if they are paid elsewhere). But for the vast majority of people you tend to live in the same country where you work.
          Still my line was about Lewis statement that he races in 19 countries so he gets paid and pays taxes taxes in those several countries and the actual place where you do your work is irrelevant if your employer is always the same (although Lewis for sure has income coming from many different sources).

          BTW, I am sure that most of the people that work on and sell Mercedes cars all over the world are not employed directly by Daimler in Germany, they a local employer (even if that employer is a subsidiary of Daimler).

        2. And VAT, that is not income tax, works very differently and the situation for the jet purchase is related to VAT

    12. I don´t want to sound old fashioned here, but isn´t that illegal?
      If it is, i´m sure the UK´s legal system will act accordingly.
      I have to say i don´t understand lewis argument. he works in 20 countries but is not employed by 20 countries. He is employed by mercedes. Why are his taxes altered if he is working abroad for the same company. its like taxing UK soldiers depending on where they fight…

      The classic argument that others avoid taxes aswell isn´t a sound one. Its like arguing that my neighbour beat his wife into a hospital while i just slapped her once or twice.

      I´m not worried at all to be honest because in worst case he pays the taxes. 3-4 Million is pocketchange after all. His fans will all agree that it´s unfair that he can´t avoid paying up, but that he´s still the best driver and that there´s big glory in winning with the best car (3/4 of the time).

      1. its like taxing UK soldiers depending on where they fight…

        That’s been a bone of contention for a while, and there are actually special rules in place about this.

        https://www.litrg.org.uk/tax-guides/armed-forces-and-tax/residence-and-domicile-issues/residence-and-domicile-armed-forces#toc-what-tax-do-i-pay-if-i-am-working-abroad-

      2. Tax evasion is illegal.
        Tax avoidance is legal (albeit controversial from an ethical perspective).

        The subtle difference in terms carries a lot of impact, and the argument goes thus:

        Sometimes, there are things the government wants to encourage (perhaps it suits its goals, or they’re members of an international agreement on the subject, or it would cost the government more if it wasn’t done…), and will minimise taxes for doing so. People buying things because they need them for work appears to be the example involved here (though note that the UK government doesn’t exempt everything). Taking advantage of that loophole is clearly legal and arguably pro-moral.

        Sometimes, loopholes are left in accidentally. Importing a plane for company purposes may be an example of this: Most people don’t need planes for work purposes, but some either do, or find it useful to do. As such, it’s unclear if this was a purpose the government wanted to encourage or not. If this turns out to be Lewis’ advisors using an unplanned loophole, it would be amoral in the classic sense of the word: no good or evil inherently occurs as a result of this loophole.

        Deliberately using a loophole, knowing that it knocks off a large amount of tax and that the activity really should pay tax (noting that tax is necessary in most societies with a stable government, to allow the government to meet its obligations towards its citizens and visitors) could most certainly be construed as immoral. It is not clear whether anything discussed here meets that specific criterion, and it would be subjective if anyone could answer that either way (short of an extremely unlikely admission, or only slightly more likely proof of intent). Also, it would depend on whether tax had been paid on this plane elsewhere – the Paradise Papers may only carry part of the story. If the truth about Lewis’ plane lands in this category, then it is tax avoidance.

        Not paying tax on something which the law clearly states should be tax would be illegal – and obviously immoral. This would be something like pretending to be eligible for a VAT exemption when one is not. The wording of the BBC article about Hamilton’s plane makes it possible, at least in theory, that what happened could fall here. This is tax evasion… …and Lewis’ advisors could be jailed if convicted of this. (For Lewis personally, the worst-case scenario is exactly as @zad2 says: payback of the disputed monies).

    13. Not interested, it’s personal choice. If a country offers the facility, and it is not illegal, then it is an individual right to choose.

      1. The trouble is that the arrangement described in the Paradise Papers (at least in the BBC telling of the story) could be illegal – while business plane imports can be tax-free in the UK, personal plane imports definitely cannot.

      2. William B Davis
        7th November 2017, 10:09

        You’re disinterest highlights the inherent problems with the capitalist system.

    14. Nothing special here. Taxes are for the least fortunate citizen only (read: slave).
      Didn’t the queen dodge it by placing her wealth in Cayman Islands fund too ?

      1. HM the Queen is also head of state of the Cayman Islands (and various other low taxation regime states). It would be more surprising if she didn’t put any money through them.

    15. It’s not as if Lewis originally aspired to look for ways to avoid tax like the born to rule types in the UK.
      He would have had dodgy accountants throwing themselves at his feet after he signed his second F1 contract, just as Max Vestappen probably is now as he sits at home trying to play his video games.

      It’s the elitist system allowing the people who steered Lewis in this direction to thrive that s#cks. Look no further than Tony Blair setting his son up as a Football agent!

      Although admittedly Anthony Hamilton’s original Ltd company ways may have rubbed off on his son, milking his position (as many I.T people did in those days) as an I.T contractor as he pulled in £75 per hour plus. (contrary to the fake romantic news that claims Lewis was a poor boy from a council estate)
      IIRC the above is now banned for anyone except BBC ’employees’ such as Gary Lineker with his multi Ltd companies and schemes! They pay millions of your BBC license fee and some income taxes into his companies, his doesn’t work for them!

      I would lay off the atheletes for now. Some of them have their Olympic Gold medals taxed!

      1. Lewis left the UK at the same time as he signed his second F1 contract. Though he really was a poor boy from a council estate – the IT company came later, when Anthony realised it was more profitable to do that than his previous method (holding down three jobs simultaneously) was allowing him to do. (And it’s not only legal to do that today, it’s fairly common for high-end IT consultants).

        1. I’ve seen photos when his brother was around 2 years old in their house with a landscaped garden, no council house at that point. Lewis was racing expensive RC cars aged 5. Most of British houses are in cramped estates and look council built anyway. As for Anthony’s 3 jobs, I.T was a good payer in the mid to late 90s with Y2K looming. Hence the expensive toys.

          1. Can you share the source please.

    16. I help keep a team of more than 1,000 people employed

      I struggle to take this seriously. The team would be employing these people regardless of him

      1. @strontium there is a bit of truth there. Imagine if this year Kimi and Ham switched places. It’s possible Ferrari would have won the constructor’s championship. And this may have meant less income from FOM and possibly reduction in workforce. So he is right, his performance is keeping Mercedes on top and therefore justifying the expense of employing 1000 of people.

        1. Hehe…that is extremely tenuous at best!

    17. The question is whether it is illegal or not. If not, then why bother?

      1. people are nosey and jealous

    18. I wonder why only Hamilton gets a full article about this.
      Massa lives in Monaco, Ricciardo lives in Monaco, Rosberg lives in Monaco, Jackie Stewart lived in Switzerkand, Schumacher lives in Switzerland, Ayrton Senna lived in Monaco, etc..

      1. I agree in general, but this article is about the Paradise Papers. So it depends on whether there’s anything revealed about their business activities in them too.

      2. Easy @edmarques. A group of investigative journalists just finished digging through the files they received a year ago and published them. And one of the hundreds of UK people who turns up in these “Paradise Papers” happens to be Hamilton.

        We discussed Rosberg last year after his name turned up in the Panama Papers.

        1. @bascb Rosberg got a mention on the round-up, not this.

          1. Yes, we discussed it in the roundup when it came up. Now we are discussing Hamilton when this came up.

          2. Perhaps there was nothing as potentially or allegedly dodgy about Rosberg’s activities as discovered in the Panama Papers, as has now been discovered in the Paradise Papers about what LH is doing wrt three companies surrounding the issue of his plane.

      3. Living in a low-tax nation is legal. It’s not 100% clear if what is alluded to in the Paradise Papers is.

    19. ‘Hamilton’ and ‘tax’ in the title? That can only mean one thing: 200+ comments :]

      1. Hamilton used to be a symbol of internationalism, and now he exposes himself as simply another rich man.

    20. Let’s give awards to people who pay the most tax like they do in Korea. A National Tax Service Honour.

    21. dont see why a man who will never use the public services or pensions in his life should have to pay for them when he spends very little time here
      and services he did use till his 18th birthday im sure he has already paid for many times

      just because hes rich and earns millions

      jealousy is a cruel mistress

      1. I take it the mega rich have private roads that they cover the upkeep on, ant their exclusive schools they send their children too don’t take the same money from the government per pupil….

        Oh…

      2. “a man who will never use the public services”
        What about airports?

        1. I don’t think airports are owned by the government

          1. BAA (now heathrow airport holdings) was set up by the government in the sixties to run the airports the government owned – Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted. Other airports were added to this. Margaret Thatcher privatised BAA in the 80’s.
            On a side note there is an airport in Britain owned by the state. The Scottish government own Glasgow Prestwick, though I doubt Lewis flies through there.

            1. The Scottish government own Glasgow Prestwick

              That explains so much

      3. Are you for real???
        I’m sure he’s using water, electricity, public roads, police, firefighters, ambulance if needed.
        If it weren’t for the police, for example, he and the rest of the rich lot, would be the first to find themselves on a mind of an angry “peasant” mob with pitchforks.

        1. Ahhh but he pays the police on an as and when basis, like late at night when crashing Zondas into parked cars in Monaco….

    22. Every corporation dodges tax in every way possible, legal, semi-legal and outright illegal if they think they can get away with it. Countless billions lost to jurisdictions everywhere. Response: universal silence.

      Looks like Hamilton, who undoubtedly doesn’t know the first thing about what’s going on with his tax arrangements – would you sort it all out yourself if you were worth a hundred million? nope me neither – might have failed to pay VAT on one purchase. Response: pitchforks and torches.

      It’s enough to make you think the hysteria is motivated by some unrelated, unmentioned factor.

    23. The poor get poor, the rich get rich;
      That’s how it goes, and
      Everybody knows…

      L. Cohen (RIP)

        1. ‘But my-oh-my, Keith baby,
          You sure stirred up a Hornets nest
          With this one…..

          Take cover, everyone !

    24. They can give all the explanations they want in favor of this offshore system to evade taxes. But the reality is that those who do this are immoral. Honest people do not do that. It’s as simple as that.
      And it does not matter if they are called Hamilton, Ecclestone or Isabel II.

      1. If you designed a system to keep the rich rich and the poor poor, it would be almost identical to what we have now.

        The people who designed our society have for centuries been the richest in society.

        1+1=…

        1. Because it was designed by the richest people lol.

        2. I only agree with you for 50% of what you said.

          The poor can become rich (as in the case of Lewis Hamilton).

          The problem I see is that the rich can´t become poor, so the system is about to crash soon or later.

          1. He was racing £500 RC cars aged 5 and had a £10,000 kart package aged 8 which soon approached a £100,000 per year sport as he reached his teens.
            Hard working and dedicated parents but he didn’t grow up poor by my reckoning.

          2. Yep, they their aspirational examples to keep the workers working – when the peasantry had no hope, they ended up revolting, which absolutely terrified the aristocracy worldwide.

    25. The UK authorities should arrest him for that hat.

      1. I thought it was a bit uncomplimentary towards the USA and New York, but I presume he bought it there, so maybe it has a more positive connotation than one normally gives to such phrases.

      2. Arrest him for what, tax avoidance is not illegal, tax evasion is illegal and I don’t think anyone has accused him of that.

        1. Call the Fashion Police!

    26. Just a couple more million to add to the pension pot.

      1. If there ever was a swindle then it’s the companies/people who run pension funds.

    27. So in other words, Hamilton himself doesn’t own the jet directly, but rather, a couple companies that exist solely to manage the jet itself, owns the jet.

      Considering how it’s (apparently) a $32 million jet, I’m not sure I blame him. Anything he owns of that much value should be protected by incorporated entities, and not just for tax purposes.

      1. It was about the import duty and VAT too. If you and I import a vehicle, even a used one, from outside the EU (say a motorcycle from Japan or a car from the USA) we are charged duty and VAT before it is released. This jet was flown and registered in a way to avoid that duty.
        This is to help protect EU companies and dealers who pay their taxes from being under-cut bu foreign imports.

    28. Ohhh Hamilton – this could send you of track and directly into prison…

    29. I would argue that the performance of the 1000 people at Mercedes is keeping Hamilton on top and therefore justifying the expense of employing him.

    30. Not to equate the severity of the offence in this comparison, but just to illustrate the point to all of those who are saying this is legal:

      Remember, pretty much everything Hitler did in Germany was legal.
      Likewise, many horrors the US government and their military are doing are “legal”, while the people who are revealing the extent of the horrors are being persecuted.

      It’s not a fair game. It’s extremely tilted in favor of the rich.
      Losses of the rich are always shared by the whole society, while the gains are enjoyed selfishly only by them.
      Look at the whole banking crisis of 2008. People who’ve been scammed have been left out in the cold, while the bankers who caused the whole crisis were bailed out by the tax money paid by the same people they’ve scammed.

      Think about it.

      1. the bankers who caused the whole crisis were bailed out by the tax money paid by the same people they’ve scammed

        Good point, all those nasty taxes suddenly looked good, I guess, when they could be used to keep the rich guys solvent rather than being wasted on schools and healthcare.

      2. The houses got foreclosed upon because people could not pay the loans back because the bank gave loans to people who couldn’t probably couldn’t pay them back, based on good faith. I think it should be up to the people taking out the loan to figure out if they can make the payments on them. The bank doesn’t know every person’s personal finances. They could have income scattered among multiple banks they wouldn’t know about.

        1. The banks knew the risks involved in most cases. Read up on what a ‘subprime mortgage’ is.

          1. Duncan Snowden
            7th November 2017, 11:50

            Yes, they knew that the risk was zero. Because the governments who told them to lend to “sub-prime” borrowers or else, assured them that they’d be bailed out if it went pear-shaped. “Give us the illusion of prosperity, and we’ll see you right,” was the message.

            It would never have happened in a free market.

            I’m serious. The Scottish banks gained their reputation for prudence and rectitude in the 18th and early 19th Centuries, when they operated under a system retroactively called “free banking”: there were no specific financial regulations at all. None. If you had the capital (and you didn’t need much), you could set up a bank. No licences. No “Authorities”. No central bank setting rates and offering guarantees. It used to be said that there was a bank on every street corner in Glasgow. They had to play fair by the customer and be careful who they lent to, or they went bust.

            And it’s a measure of how powerful that system was that the reputation of those who survived persisted for over 150 years after it was abolished and they were brought under the same regulatory regime as the rest of the UK. It’s all in tatters since 2007, of course. Yet somehow “free markets” get the blame.

        2. @Kevin

          The bank doesn’t know every person’s personal finances.

          Errrrr….What? Clearly you have never taken out a Mortgage…..There are rules in place to INSIST that banks know peoples personal finances before giving them a mortgage!!!

      3. Al Capone got away with having dozens of people murdered, on top of all sorts of criminal activities. But he was jailed seven and a half years for tax avoidance.

        One good turn deserves another.

    31. someone that change country to tax heaven, not paying taxes is a story ?

    32. I’ll defend Hamilton living is tax havens any day of the week. The law is currently you don’t pay tax in the Uk if you don’t live here, I see nothing wrong with that.

      This though is blatant. He leases the plane to a company who lease it to him and he clearly uses it for personal reasons. I doubt Hamilton sat and figured the scam out himself, and probably didn’t know the specifics of the dealings. But I suspect he knew enough to understand this was a way of avoiding a tax he would rightly be liable for.

      1. In the US any expenses that could be considered for business can count toward your tax return and you don’t have to pay taxes on them if you supply documents that they were for business reasons. Not sure how it is elsewhere, but this could classify as a business expense if other countries did the same.

      2. It’s also pretty much SOP for multi-million dollar properties. This isn’t a Bugatti Veyron or a fancy car– it’s a $30 million dollar jet. Operating it as a business probably saves him a fair amount in expenses around the globe, and the not paying VAT is more of a side effect than the primary purpose.

    33. If you could beat the system and escape to safe havens, who wouldn’t do it if they could afford to escape to those places? Power to the player. I guarantee if nobody had to pay taxes, nobody would complain. It’s all comes down to envy at the end of the day. He’s paying taxes for places he doesn’t even live and I guarantee he pays taxes on all of his properties in different countries.

      1. I proudly pay taxes in the country that I was raised in, that I work and live in, because this community gave me clean water in the taps, safe roads to travel on, hospitals to go to if I need them, a school to learn from, etc. I feel I actually owe a debt to the collective that helped raise me. I think rich people owe their communities for the opportunities that they were given.

    34. It’s easy for us to sit here judging. I don’t think there is anyone here who would not try to pay less tax if there was a legal way to do it.

      1. Quite probably true.
        It is a bit of a mystery though how the legal ways to avoid tax are usually reserved for the top 5% of earners. The rest don’t have the facilities to create non-dom status or buy a property in Jersey. The rules don’t permit that.
        Pure greed.

    35. Trying to reduce the taxes you have to pay is definitely ok!

      But I don´t think it is right to do this by forming several offshore companies in order to mark the plane as business property. When you read into the details you have to come to the conclusion that it is not ethical (even if ist legal).

    36. This is just bull. Probably some jet salesman arranged this.

      Systemic problem, that some rich sports people get cought in.

      In our country former boss of tax collection got cought with offshore accounts. Just regular day, while Lewis probably paid most of his taxes…

    37. Fascinating. The media is full of this news a.k.a. gossip. Thanks to the iPhone and such we have become gossip cultures. It is not a question here of doing something illegal. The culprits in all this are the successive governments who have done nothing meaningful to change this scenario. We however, can do some things: for example:
      stop buying Nike Shoes,Apple products, using facebook (or at least post on it to say Tax cheat) we could even stop standing for the national anthem or singing it! Betcha not many groaners’ll do that thought.
      The real offence here is that a poor lad from Stevenage could afford advisers that could do for him what they do for royalty and major international corporations. That’s what the gossip is really about, huh?

    38. Question from Tax Accountant : Do you want to take home more of the money that you have earned or less?

      Answer: Yes? as long as it is legal and above board.

      10 years later your being smeared in the media for taking hospital beds from sick children.

      I think it is fair to say that Hamilton does more for charities than anyone of the commenters here. Doing well for yourself and wanting to keep most of your money does not make you a bad person, it makes you human in a capitalist society.

      I wish people would stop hating rich people as it stinks of jealousy.

      1. Judging from the answer to the Tax accountant’s question, the client is a bit of a dumbo, huh? Is it YES to less or YES to more? hehehehe. Sorry, couldn’t resist the poke a la Sebastian style.

      2. We don’t hate rich people, we hate their creepy accountants

    39. Everybody is free to avoid (as opposed to evade) all the taxes they can. Doesnt matter if you are rich or poor.

      They should therefore not be condemned for doing so unless they also indulge in the type of narcissist holier-than-thou political correctness that is forced upon us by people like Bono, George Clooney and the like. Public hypocrisy deserves public censure.

      I’m genuinely not sure if Hamilton falls in the latter category, as I do not use Twitter or Instagram.

    40. Martin O. Powell
      7th November 2017, 13:15

      ‪I just can’t figure out why this tax issue isn’t a problem when it comes to Jenson Button, Sir Jackie Stewart, Nigel Mansell, and many other Brits, who do the same, for the same reasons, wait, the reasons on the tip of my tongue…..! Nah, it’s gone!

      1. I don’t know. Have the ones you’ve cited used three companies to shelter themselves from paying tax on a plane? Perhaps even though thousands, perhaps millions, use tax shelters globally, they don’t all use so many smoke and mirrors shell games like it might appear LH is doing. I’m not accusing him of anything for how would I know what he is up to, but this suggestion by several posters that it is only LH under the microscope is ridiculous. If the ones you cite have done things illegally we’d be seeing them in the headlines too. They have been in the headlines in the past for being tax exilers. Just so happens it’s LH’s turn right now.

      2. None of those drivers that you cite are now racing as the current world champion. That is why he is being focused on.

    41. My thoughts are, all that admiration and kudos from obtaining a 4th World F1 title being all wiped out in one foul swoop.

      We know he is is not alone in his actions re tax avoidance but Lewis does have a really good record of attracting bad headlines!

    42. shame on you F1 Fanatic for running this non story in an attempt to undermine Hamilton’s achievements. Stick with F1 news only..Especially as HM customs have confirmed there was no wrong doing.

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    All comments are moderated. See the Comment Policy and FAQ for more.
    If the person you're replying to is a registered user you can notify them of your reply using '@username'.