The Times reports that the latest Tax List published by the Sunday Times back in 2021 has reignited a 300 year old rivalry between two London property dynasties, the Duke of Westminster and his company Grosvenor Group and the Cadogan family.  Both are famed for their property ownership but this is not about wealth itself (for that the reader is directed instead to the Rich List) but because one is seen to pay more tax than the other (the Cadogan family in this case).  

The Cadogan family have seemingly found themselves higher on the list (i.e. they have paid more tax) because they have published details of a wider range of taxes paid by their company, including VAT and stamp duty, the 'tax borne' approach; whereas Grosvenor Group have published only what they are obliged to: corporation tax and national insurance contributions.

Taking a step back from the 'one-upmanship' at play, the desire to be seen as paying more tax,  is this reflective of a general sea change in society; the desire to be seen to be paying your fair share of tax and being on a list which celebrates this - is this the death knell for the Rich List? 

This plays to the wider issue at play; the rise of 'Social Capital' in recent years.  This has become increasingly important  to wealthy families and their family offices who want to be seen to be giving back to society.  This also ties in with identifying a purpose of the wealth which reaches beyond the family.  Paying more tax can be argued to be just another way of achieving the same aim.

But what has driven this change?  One answer is the 'Great Wealth Transfer', as wealth transfers to Millennials and Generation Z, who are less comfortable with material wealth and possess a greater social and environmental awareness.  Another lies in the fall out from the Covid pandemic where there has been a rising pressure and expectation on those who 'have' to contribute to those who 'have not'  The same is true for business where those who have demonstrated corporate social responsibility during the pandemic have often been rewarded through positive PR and which has a bearing on overall profitability.  

As I have previously reported, this perspective to wittingly want to pay more tax is also being witnessed in Canada where the Resource Movement (a cohort of next gens) are pressuring the Canadian government to introduce a wealth tax and increase inheritance taxes.  Such direct lobbying is unlikely to happen in the UK but the wealthy are only going to want to appear to be paying more tax in the future as the financial fall out from the Covid pandemic becomes more apparent.  All eyes will be on next year's Tax List to see how this plays out in practice!