Billionaires in Speedos: Who Is the Top Tax-Payer In the UK?

Tax CalculationsThere are plenty of people that will tell you equities trading is a scam brought to life by snake oil salesmen.

The same people will tell you that bookmakers are vultures preying on the vulnerable and the down-on-their-luck, and that budget pub chains are a symptom of everything that is wrong with modern day life in the UK.

But what would those people say if they knew that four individuals from those particular niches paid a mammoth £1.2 billion in taxes into the UK’s economy in 2022 alone?

They might re-evaluate their disdain, that’s for certain….

The data is out that reveals who is the UK’s top tax-payer, and there’s a surprise new entry at the top of the charts, knocking perennial number one Denise Coates (and the rest of her Bet365 family) off the summit.

So who were the top tax-payers in the UK in 2022?

Alex Gerko – £487.4m

It’s the sort of success story that’s enough to turn you green with envy.

Alex Gerko is a Russian maths graduate who decided that accounting or doing the letters and numbers on Countdown wasn’t for him.

Instead, he built a piece of software that enables him to trade the equities market, foreign currencies and other commodities, with more than £250 million in assets controlled by his algorithm every single day.

It seems as though his code is up to scratch, because Gerko has gone from rags to untold riches – an annual tax bill of £487.4 million indicative of his net worth that is thought to exceed £5 billion.

A relatively youthful 43, Gerko founded his XTX Markets operation in London courtesy of his British citizenship – hence why the UK’s coffers get a handsome bonus when he comes to pay his tax, although the company does have offices all over the globe.

He’s also donated some of his wealth to charitable causes in Ukraine, perhaps signalling his disdain for his homeland’s invasion.

Robert Watts, the analyst who does all the heavy lifting in putting the list of the UK’s top tax-payers together, commented: “Alex Gerko’s story is an extraordinary read. This was a man who could have been one of Russia’s greatest wealth creators — instead he is creating jobs and paying his tax here.

“Enticing the super-rich to London doesn’t always pay dividends for the public finances. In his case it certainly has.”

Denise Coates – £460.2m

Like Wet Wet Wet’s ‘Love Is All Around’ in the 1990s, Denise Coates has dominated the chart for what feels like an eternity.

Alongside family members John and Peter, Denise – the owner of Bet365 – has pumped literally billions into the UK’s coffers since her firm caught light with the public more than a decade ago.

With an estimated 80 million punters in more than 200 countries, it’s no surprise to learn that Bet365 generates annual revenue of nearly £3 billion a year – hence Coates’ tasty salary and accompanying extortionate tax bill.

Coates is thought to be the fifth wealthiest woman in Britain, although some above her in the league table inherited their riches. Coates, meanwhile, launched Bet365 from a portacabin in Stoke-on-Trent!

Stephen Rubin – £392.3m

Like Gerko, Stephen Rubin has amassed a mind-boggling fortune despite the fact that the average Joe or Jane probably wouldn’t recognise him in the street.

Rubin transformed the shoe company owned by his immigrant parents and relaunched it as the Pentland Group. They own a number of brands you are probably familiar with, such as JD Sport, Speedos, Berghaus and Kickers, to name just a few.

In 1981, Rubin acquired a 55% stake in sportswear firm Reebok for around £60,000. Ten years later, he sold his shares for more than £700 million. That’s a move that can be filed under ‘savvy’….

Sir Chris Hohn – £263m

Ah, the murky world of private equity.

That’s where knight of the realm Chris Hohn made his money, acting as the hedge fund manager for a number of different firms including, latterly, The Children’s Investment Fund.

Good with numbers, Hohn also has a heart of gold – he’s donated more than £4 billion to The Children’s Investment Fund’s charitable foundation.

Fred Done – £136.8m

Fred Done turns 80 in March, but he’s still rocking and rolling as the figurehead for Betfred.

Fred and his brother Peter famously opened their first betting shop with winnings from their own flutter on England to win the World Cup in 1966, and while there have been missteps since – he famously paid out early on Manchester United to win the league title in 1998 and 2012 (they didn’t either time), and his time as the owner of The Tote ended in recriminations – Done has been a mainstay of the UK gambling sector for five decades.

Imagine how much tax he has paid in that time!