There was an interesting debate in the UK social media circles as well as press regarding the new 2-time British champion Lewis Hamilton. While many are elated with the victory and second title for Hamilton, some were nonplussed but his display after the race as he celebrated in Parc Ferme with a British flag draped over his shoulders.
The reason, as best as I can tell, is that some feel Hamilton is a tax exile and have leveled serious criticism in his direction for playing up his British nationality while living in Monaco to avoid paying taxes.
I was reading an article at the Telegraph as well as numerous comments on Facebook and Social media about this issue and found it an interesting conversation between fans.
Some are very quick to point out that Hamilton is not the only British sports champion to live elsewhere as a tax-avoider and many of the past Formula 1 greats have done the same. Names from the past have been offered as proof positive that Hamilton is not the only driver to big up his Britishness while avoiding Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs.
That’s very true. There is a long list of drivers who have given multiple excuses for their reasons for moving out of the UK and into tax-friendly locations such as Monaco or Switzerland. I will say that this is a different era though and the sentiment of #socialjustice and #incomeequality and #sharingeconomy have all become the trope of a generation who seem to marginalize the immutable nature of human behavior.
Why would Lewis move to become a tax exile when his tax revenue is dearly needed to help those in economic situations that he claims to have come from? The other side of that coin is why wouldn’t he move? The tax rate is galactic in scope and his career is unknown, potentially lethal and most likely short by today’s career longevity standards—just ask Jenson Button or Jean-Eric Vergne. Maximizing your income to prepare for the remainder of your life is something he should be thinking seriously about.
Take a read of Oliver Brown’s article here and then read a rebuttal from Mark Gallagher here and let us know what you think? Has the era come when this type of tax avoidance is simply not okay? Is it justifiable given circumstances or simply because others have done it? Many drivers live in tax-friendly locations so it’s business as usual? Is this making a mountain out of a molehill?