A major British rocker is leaving America because of its high taxes
In 1966, George Harrison wrote his hit song “Taxman,” which griped about the way the British government could not keep its hands off its citizens’ money. In subsequent years, wealthy British rockers escaped Britain’s extraordinarily high tax rate on high earners. That’s why it was shocking to read that rocker Ozzy Osbourne and his equally famous wife, Sharon, are heading back to England to avoid America’s excessive taxes.
The lyrics to Harrison’s 1966 song are not subtle:
Let me tell you how it will be
There’s one for you, nineteen for me
‘Cause I’m the taxman
Yeah, I’m the taxman
Should five per cent appear too small?
Be thankful I don’t take it all
‘Cause I’m the taxman
Yeah, I’m the taxman
It continues in that vein for several more verses, pointing out that the British revenue service taxed anything that moved and much that didn’t. Nor did Harrison write the song just to be clever. It came from the heart:
“I had discovered I was paying a huge amount of money to the taxman,” he once explained in an interview. “You are so happy that you’ve finally started earning money – and then you find out about tax. In those days we paid nineteen shillings and sixpence out of every pound (there were twenty shillings in the pound), and with supertax and surtax and tax-tax it was ridiculous – a heavy penalty to pay for making money…It was, and still is, typical. Why should this be so? Are we being punished for something we have forgotten to do?...That was the big turn-off for Britain. Anybody who ever made any money moved to America or somewhere else.”
George wasn’t exaggerating about the money taken from The Beatles. According to Martin Armstrong,
The US top tax rate in 1963 was 91%, dropping to 70% during 1964-81. The top rate for British taxpayers in the mid-1960s reached 83%. The wealthiest among them paid a 15% super tax on top of that, pushing taxes as high as 98%. The pain came out in the Beatles 1966 song “Taxman.”
A Tax Appeals form for the Beatles reflects how that played out in the real world: “The Beatles are in the 90% tax bracket. Accordingly, in order for them to personally give the 615,000 gift, they would have to earn 6150,000 [sic].”
Harrison was right, as well, that the rockers were heading to parts of the world in which their own government wouldn’t fleece them:
In the ‘70s and ‘80s many rockers, at least temporarily, encamped to tax havens around the world. David Bowie and Marc Bolan moved to Switzerland; Cat Stevens to Brazil; and Rod Stewart and Bad Company to California. Ringo Starr moved to Monte Carlo in 1975; in an interview, he told Howard Stern he pays “zero taxes.” Even the Police‘s frontman Sting, who sang, “I don’t wanna be no tax exile” in 1978’s “Dead End Job,” left for Ireland two years later.
One of the countries that offered somewhat lower tax rates (or, at least, better loopholes) was America, especially whenever a Republican rolled through the White House. That’s why it was jarring to read that Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne are heading back to England to avoid sky-high American taxes:
The Black Sabbath legend, 73, and his wife, 69, are to head back to their home Welders House, in Buckinghamshire, with him having spoken about their plans recently.
The singer-songwriter explained: “We are leaving LA. We are a bit sad. But the tax is getting too much. I am sad because I really really like staying and living there.”
The Grammy Award winner further commented: “If they do the taxes better then I may come back. I do not know.”
“I am taking my recording studio with me. I am going to build a barn there and make my own studio at Welders. I will still be making music and my band will come over,” he added.
Perhaps this story resonated strongly with me because I met with my accountant today and learned that I will be contributing a nauseating amount of money to the federal government this year. This is painful not only because I’ll be parting with the money but also because I know I could put it to much better use than the current administration. It’s painful seeing my money used to flood the country with illegal aliens, turn the U.S. military into the worst woke college campus, go on a dangerous “green energy” spending spree, and institute programs reverting America to a country riven by racial obsessions.
Unlike Ozzy and Sharon, though, I have no gorgeous 19th-century mansion in Buckinghamshire. I love my country and I’m stuck with its tax system and grossly greedy government.