31 May 2013

Beatles Bask

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I came across this Neil Irwin post about those dastardly rich people who don’t want the government taking the majority of their money. In contrast to people who would flee a country because of taxes, Irwin gives the example of the heroic Beatles:

Here’s an important thing to remember, though: There is, in these debates, nothing new. There once was a group of popular British musicians who chafed under Labour prime minister Harold Wilson’s 95 percent tax on the wealthy. Fortunately, the Beatles were able to lodge their displeasure in music: “If you drive the car I’ll tax the street/If you try to sit, I’ll tax your seat/If you get to cold I’ll tax the heat/If you take a walk, I’ll tax your feet. . .. Cause I’m the taxman.”

The question for the world’s governments as they look to reduce budget deficits is whether today’s millionaires will do more than lodge their protest through snappy pop songs– particularly when there is a private jet always gassed up and ready to go, and nations ready to host them at favorable rates.

Now at first I thought this was hilarious, because I had always filed it away in my mind that a major reason for the Beatles moving to the United States was the outrageous level of UK taxes. Yet I just spent about 15 minutes–an absolute eternity–using Google, and I can’t find a smoking gun claim about that. Yes, plenty of sites have quotes from the lads explaining that George was complaining about the Wilson tax, but I haven’t seen any interviews from them (or their manager, etc.) saying it was a reason for leaving England.

Can anybody help me out here? Is this just a case of supply-side wishful thinking bias on my part?

6 Responses to “Beatles Bask”

  1. Ken B says:

    Music from a man who came to America for other reasons. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h0bQEUp56uU

  2. knoxharrington says:


    The Stones were tax exiles – it seems likely that George Harrison and The Beatles were writing with a a message to the government. I believe Harrison said as much but I don’t know where to go for the quote.

  3. Josh says:

    The whole reason the Beatles set up Apple was to avoid taxes. Since arguments over Apple led to the Beatles split then you could say high taxes led to breaking up the Beatles.

    As to them moving, George and Paul never did. John left for other reasons. Ringo had to spend time as a “tax exile”. All of this was post Beatles and I learned it in Peter Doggett’s book “You Never Give Me Your Money” which was about the break up and the post Beatle years.

    The Rolling Stones left for tax reasons and were very vocal about the why.

  4. Matt M says:

    I once had a dream where Murphy was singing karaoke of Taxman at Porcfest.

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