Britain's Brain Drain: Professionals Flee High Taxes

The number of Brits leaving England for new lives abroad has risen sharply over the past 20 years, according to new research undertaken for the UK Home Office.

New statistics show that around 149,000 Brits emigrated last year, leaving the UK for the United States, Australia, and Canada, among other destinations. Commentators, however, are more alarmed that almost half of Britons emigrating each year are professionals and company managers, “potentially threatening the country’s supply of highly skilled workers,” as one writer put it.

Britain’s high rates of income tax, alongside an increasing cost of living and slow economic recovery, are seen as key factors in the sharp increase in professionals leaving the country. John Cridland, director general of the Confederation of British Industry, one of the UK’s leading independent employers’ organizations, agrees that taxation is an issue, but believes that a remedy is imminent. “These are disturbing figures, there is no doubt that the spike in recent years was due in part to high personal taxes, which the Chancellor is now tackling.” 

Yet scholars at the free-market Adam Smith Institute are less optimistic. They suggest that as income tax levels have risen above those of their European neighbors, the UK’s competitiveness and economic growth will be stifled over the coming years. In a new report, the Institute's Peter Young and Miles Saltiel highlight the extended consequences of the tax burden, showing how it's leading not only to the emigration of young professionals but also to the flight of entire companies. In the report, Stephen Hedgecock, the managing partner of Altis, a hedge fund that recently moved from the UK to Jersey, an independent island just off the British coast known for its status as a "tax haven," argues:

The UK model is broken. It’s not just the 50% rate- its National Insurance, the treatment of pensions…everything. It’s just a ridiculous amount of taxation.

Speaking on the findings, a Home Office spokesman recognized the necessity of making the UK an attractive place to live and work in order to retain talented British workers. “To continue competing in a global race, businesses must invest in the skills of UK workers and retain our highly skilled workforce.” The harsh reality of the UK tax system has meant that talented workers can find considerably more attractive employment offers elsewhere in the world.

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  • Auric Demonocles||

    Reason's low alt-text rates are going to result in a commenter brain drain.

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    +1 alt-text

  • Brandybuck||

    I only come here for the alt text

  • Ken Shultz||

    "The UK model is broken. It’s not just the 50% rate- its National Insurance, the treatment of pensions…everything. It’s just a ridiculous amount of taxation."

    Don't worry. Barack Obama is doing everything he can to get us to parity and as soon as possible, too.

    We just reelected him and Bob's your uncle.

  • Brutus||

    It's all relative, no? If Britain makes people eat ten pounds of shit a day and we only mandate five pounds, we'll see a tsunami of people eager to eat five pounds of American shit daily.

  • ||

    Don't worry. When the reds finally take over Limetree Island, they'll just hang the capitalists instead of letting them leave.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Coming to a country near you. Gosh, math sure is hard.

  • Rick Santorum||

    The reason they're emigrating probably has less to do with high taxes and more to do with Britain becoming a totalitarian progressive shithole. Also, Sharia.

  • Ken Shultz||

    You think 149,000 Brits emigrated last year becasue they want to smoke in restaurants and they're afraid of Muslims?

  • Loki||

    It couldn't possibly be tax flight because that doesn't happen in the real world. /stupid progresso-tard

  • Rick Santorum||

    I don't want to be thrown in jail for saying the wrong thing in public.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Brits aren't afraid of being thrown in jail for sayings something stupid. Most of them think our freedom of speech is a big mistake.

    Believe me, it's the tax burden and negative perceptions about the future given the state of the economy, not just in the UK but elsewhere in Europe.

  • Turd in the Punchbowl||

    Probably not all 149,000. But yeah, plenty of British emigrants have been quite clear that among the reasons they left were high levels of immigration, and all the lovely "benefits" associated with it.

  • Ken Shultz||

    So I guess if I look at the National Front's polling numbers, they'll be bigger than they've ever been before?

    Look at the percentage of the vote they're getting these days...

    http://tinyurl.com/aabdqta

    It's still less than one-tenth of one percent.

    Do you imagine that people would rather leave the country of their birth becasue of Muslim immigrants rather than vote for the National Front because of Muslim immigrants?

    Ludicrous!

  • Sudden||

    Admittedly, it is still quite possible that people who have some reservations about the overwhelming levels of immigration and the surge of fundamental Islam are still a bit put off by an explicitly racial party.

    This whole conflating immigration restrictions with racism doesn't always fit with actual human thoughts and behavior.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Voting for the predominate anti-immigration party is a lot easier than selling your home, saying good-bye to friends and family and leaving the country.

    It says up top that almost half of the people leaving are professionals. How many of those professionals who leave do you imagine were living in predominately Muslim immigrant neighborhoods?

  • Turd in the Punchbowl||

    Given that the National Front has been a dead letter for years, that's not a surprise. Unfortunately, you neglected to note that there are other anti-immigration parties, such as UKIP, which are doing quite well, thankyouveruch. Not to mention the current Tory government was elected partly on promises of reducing immigration (promises that have thus far been unkept, and were made largely in response to electoral gains made by the BNP, the sucessor to Natioal Front). So yes, they are voting to reduce immigration. It's not an either/or proposition.

  • Sevo||

    "High-paid individuals have more to fear from their spouse than they do from the state of California. [...] if they all work on their relationships, we'll take care of spending their money wisely." - Gov. Jerry Brown,..."
    http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/.....028536.php (near the bottom)

    See, it's all good. Moonbean will take care of the money.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Jesus, Steve Chapman must be writing Moonbeam's speeches for him.

    There hasn't been any reason to think anything but starving Sacramento of taxes will ever stop them from spending.

    And now there's no reason to think they'll have any trouble raising taxes.

    Moonbeam should save that quip and use it again the day they get rid of Prop 13.

    Jesus, the super majority legislature is to the left of a guy everyone calls "Moonbeam"!

  • Almanian_||

    "Steven Chapman is on vacation this week...."

  • Loki||

    God what a shithead. "Don't you worry your pretty little heads, daddy Jerry will take of the money, you just lie back and think of England." And those people keep voting for this shit. Seriously, how did California go from once upon a time electing Ronald Reagan governor to slitting their own wrists economically by voting in prop 30 and handing the progressive Social Dems a supermajority in the legislature?

  • Ken Shultz||

    "How did California go from once upon a time electing Ronald Reagan governor to slitting their own wrists economically by voting in prop 30 and handing the progressive Social Dems a supermajority in the legislature?"

    It's all about Republicans being perceived as social conservatives because of stupid shit Republicans do and say elsewhere in the country.

    Some Republican somewhere says something stupid about "legitimate rape", and it's all over. And the Republicans in California just can't live down what the Republicans elsewhere do and say.

    There's just a never ending supply of new stupid shit that gets said every election cycle.

  • ||

    Also, California's population is going pinko.

  • Ken Shultz||

    That's the perception.

    Many of them think taxes won't be as bad as advertised.

    They haven't been subjected to really high taxes in a long time--because of Prop 13.

    God bless Prop 13.

    When the tax bill hits, they'll notice.

  • Sudden||

    Admittedly, as a non-property owner, I wouldn't actually mind rescinding prop 13 so much assuming it lead to a drop in my income taxes. It is rather BS that I'm paying nearly 10% of my income in tax to California while not a high-income person in order to subsidize those who own property paying less.

    Not to mention, a repeal of prop 13 will cause RE values to drop pretty handily here in CA, which may actually give me a chance to buy in.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Other people paying less taxes than you--does not amount to you subsidizing them.

    They don't owe you anything.

    Your beef is with the politicians who tax you--not with property owners.

    People don't owe you anything just because they own something.

  • Sudden||

    Oh, I fully understand that. I'd rather the state budget shrink altogether and result in lower income taxes as well as lower property taxes.

  • Ken Shultz||

    One other thing:

    Prop 13 requires a two-thirds vote in order to pass tax increases.

    If not for that (forget the property taxes), they would have raised taxes a lot higher than they are a long time ago.

    It isn't just property taxes that Prop 13 is about. They're going to raise them all!

    They're going to raise them all.

  • Brandybuck||

    Repealing Prop 13 won't reduce your state income taxes. Sheesh. Did you go to a California school or something?

  • Sudden||

    Of course, the situation never works in reverse. We can't, for example, show clips of the one Dem congressman who was worried about the island of Guam capsizing and say to the area Dems "Look, there is teh stupid on both sides." Of course, many California Dems would say his concerns are valid.

  • The Hammer||

    Considering Guam is now nothing but a writhing mass of snakes and spiders, I wish it could capsize.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Seriously, how did California go from once upon a time electing Ronald Reagan governor to slitting their own wrists economically by voting in prop 30 and handing the progressive Social Dems a supermajority in the legislature?

    It sure wasn't from importing a large number of voters from a 3rd world dump.

    Nope, couldn't be that.

  • Calidissident||

    VG, and the voting would be different if they imported a bunch of people from first world socialist states, like say, Sweden or the UK?

  • JW||

    "Don't you worry your pretty little heads, daddy Jerry will take of the money, you just lie back and think of England."

    RAPIST!

    No joemo.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Speaking on the findings, a Home Office spokesman recognized the necessity of making the UK an attractive place to live and work in order to retain talented British workers. “To continue competing in a global race, businesses must invest in the skills of UK workers and retain our highly skilled workforce.”

    What the fuck?

    "Companies should pay their employees more, so we can confiscate it." Is that about it?

  • Whiterun Guard||

    Oh god, what will they ever do without all of their 'company managers'?

  • pmains||

    Sounds like some people don't want to pay their fair share. Maybe Britain should deny exit visas.

  • JD the elder||

    It's funny, because I keep running into US internet leftists who insist that tax flight does not exist in the real world.

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    We've got T o n y, that's close enough...

  • Ken Shultz||

    Oh tax hikes have no effect on anything whatsoever.

    Tony knows that because Keynes!

  • Doctor Whom||

    At the same time, making policy through the tax code is a wonderful idea.

  • Ken Shultz||

    That's right.

    Raising taxes has no negative consequences, and it can make the world a better place, too.

  • Sevo||

    Ken Shultz| 11.12.12 @ 10:42AM |#
    "Oh tax hikes have no effect on anything whatsoever."

    Except when it's, oh, sodas. Or smokes. Or for 'green' bullshit; then they matter and people will respond to incentives.
    But they'll never respond by doing what we "don't expect".

  • Sudden||

    Except when it's, oh, sodas. Or smokes.

    The irony is that I don't know if the Left ever actually believed higher taxes would sap demand for these products. I think it was a phony rationale they used to get these taxes passes. Now they're scurrying to try and find replacements for that revenue because they got addicted to cigarette tax revenue that has halved in a decade.

  • Ken Shultz||

    They certainly want energy to cost more to combat global warming.

    But, you're right, talking basic economic with many of them is like talking evolution with a creationist.

    They're skeptical of everything you say about economics in exactly the same way that creationists are skeptical of evolution.

    How do we know that...?

  • Zeb||

    And many of those same people will happily explain to you how companies get tax breaks to send jobs offshore.

  • Ken Shultz||

    +1

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Also, I laughed when Cameron offered to take in French tax refugees.

    Why in the name of Zod would they go to England, when they could go to Monaco?

  • Whiterun Guard||

    Slightly less Euro-trash?

  • Loki||

    John Cridland, director general of the Confederation of British Industry, one of the UK’s leading independent employers’ organizations, agrees that taxation is an issue, but believes that a remedy is imminent.

    Simple remedy: ban emigration. Nobody leaves. Ever. /derp

    "To continue competing in a global race, businesses must invest in the skills of UK workers and retain our highly skilled workforce." The harsh reality of the UK tax system has meant that talented workers can find considerably more attractive employment offers elsewhere in the world.

    Sounds to me like businesses are "invest[ing] int the skills of UK workers." Oh wait, he really means they need to keep those darn selfish workers from leaving the country so that the UK government can keep the spoils from pillaging their people's paychecks.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Oh wait, he really means they need to keep those darn selfish workers from leaving the country so that the UK government can keep the spoils from pillaging their people's paychecks."

    Yeah, if the government stopped pilfering so much of people's paychecks that it made them want to leave, businesses would be a lot more interested in investing in their skills.

  • ||

    OT: So when is New Hampshire going to cut out its Retard gene and put all those Free Stater gains in the legislature to use by making it a non-alcoholic beverage control state?

  • Zeb||

    NH liquor stores are actually pretty nice, so it's probably not too high on the list. But there has been some movement toward more private retailers selling spirits (beer and wine are sold at regular stores). So there's a small move in the right direction. What I really wanted to see was getting rid of the permit requirement for concealed carry, but I don't think that is going anywhere now. Which reminds me, I need to renew mine.

  • ||

    Why isn't it going anywhere? I'm genuinely curious, since I haven't been keeping up since last year.

    Also, Missouri is the best for alcohol laws. BOOZE FOR EVERYBODY.

  • dave b.||

    You misspelled Louisiana.

  • Brutus||

    Missouri **is** good with booze laws, a by-product of Anheuser-Busch HQ being here.

  • ||

    Because it's not significantly inconveniencing anybody. It's just spirits. And they're cheaper here than any border state.

    You really think that being able to buy a 5th of Jack without having to drive a bit is really that big of a deal? Really? Where do you live? Pittsburg?

  • Zeb||

    If you are asking about the pistol permit thing, I'm not sure. It sounds reasonable. VT right next door has no permit requirement and they seem OK. The problem now is that we have another democrat governor and I don't think the senate was ever all that into it.

    The whole thing is silly. It's not as if it is difficult to get away with carrying without a permit. It does nothing to prevent anyone doing mischief with a concealed weapon.

    But on the bright side, there are no restrictions on carrying knives (even switchblades).

  • DanD||

    The same thing has been happening in California for a while. Nashville is overrun with California transplants helpfully--albeit in a tragically ironic self-unaware fashion--telling us how we should improve our social policies 'round here to make things more fair or just or something like that.

  • ||

    Hope to God they don't fuck up Tennessee.

  • dunkel||

    I grew up in Denver, and the calitards fucked that up. Now I'm in Nashville, and damned if they aren't gonna try to fuck this up too. Is there no escape from these fuckstains?

  • Zeb||

    Nope. It happened to northern New England 40 years ago. It will happen to all the other appealing places to live that have cheap land.

  • Ken Shultz||

    I think Nissan relocated to Nashville, didn't they?

  • dunkel||

    Yes, Nissan is in suburban Nashville.

  • Ken Shultz||

    I bet they don't miss Torrance.

  • Doctor Whom||

    Obviously, if you move to a new place, you should do whatever you can to turn it into an exact duplicate of the place that you went to the trouble of leaving. It's like the people who move from a suburban subdivision to either an in-town party neighborhood or a rural area, take one look at their new community, flip out, and demand that the zoning board DO SOMETHING!!! and make their new neighborhood just like theor old one.

  • OldMexican||

    Re: Doctor Whom,

    Obviously, if you move to a new place, you should do whatever you can to turn it into an exact duplicate of the place that you went to the trouble of leaving.

    That's what viruses do. Why are you surprised?

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Obviously, if you move to a new place, you should do whatever you can to turn it into an exact duplicate of the place that you went to the trouble of leaving.

    Good thing 3rd world immigrants don't do that.

  • Sudden||

    I keep hoping that all the immigration outflows from my formerly Golden state will be all the progs and leave California with a greater number of libertarians and conservatives. Yet each election cycle I realize how naive that hope is.

  • mr lizard||

    We have the problem of NJ/NY transplants coming to Florida and insisting we build light rail everywhere...among other great ideas.

  • ||

    OT, but obviously relevant to everything, ever: Lucy Steigerwald has her own blog. Just saw the announcement on Facebook this morning: http://thestagblog.com/

  • ||

    Best part so far? She has a "Lazy Critique of Libertarianism of the Day" feature.

  • Almanian_||

    Thanks for the tip! Hadn't seen this - I blasted it out, too.

  • zandooo||

    Sometimes dude you jsut have to roll with the punches!

    www.Anon-Gotz.tk

  • Ken Shultz||

    Up yours, Lou!

  • ||

    That's what the backhand is for.

  • flye||

    Front hand! No, backhand!

  • C. Anacreon||

    Is zandooo related to donderooo?

  • OldMexican||

    Britain's high rates of income tax, alongside an increasing cost of living and slow economic recovery, are seen as key factors in the sharp increase in professionals leaving the country.


    A planet where people change their behavior as tax rates are raised?

  • ||

    Actually, those folks are changing their "behaviour". -))

  • ||

    Why do you love France, Max? HEIL BRITAIN.

    /Alexander Hamilton

  • pmains||

    France? You're thinking behavieur.

  • db||

    Unpossible!

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    RUN AWAY! RUN AWAY!

  • OldMexican||

    John Cridland, director general of the Confederation of British Industry, one of the UK's leading independent employers' organizations, agrees that taxation is an issue, but believes that a remedy is imminent. "These are disturbing figures, there is no doubt that the spike in recent years was due in part to high personal taxes, which the Chancellor is now tackling."


    This sounds like a Monty Python skeet.

  • OldMexican||

    Skit. I mean to say skit.

  • Doctor Whom||

    There's nothing wrong with Britain that government intervention can't prolong.

  • Brutus||

    Cut funding for the Ministry of Silly Walks?? Egads!!

  • Almanian_||

    Braaaaaaaaaaaaiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiins! Mmmmm!

  • PowerBottom||

    What I never understood about the 'tax the rich' crowd is that they assume the wealthy folks will simply sit back and let themselves be railroaded. Sure, there are some who will, but the majority of really wealthy folks are worldly people who are just as at home in other countries as their home nations.

  • Almanian_||

    sit back and let themselves be railroaded

    I thought they were supposed to lie back and think of England?

  • OldMexican||

    Re: PowerBottom,

    What I never understood about the 'tax the rich' crowd is that they assume the wealthy folks will simply sit back and let themselves be railroaded.


    Just ask our resident leftist, Tony: He truly and wholeheartedly thinks that even when people are taxed way up their kazoo, they will be just as happy and productive as they can be.

  • Brutus||

    Then again, Tony's a big fan of things up the kazoo, so perhaps his is not the opinion one should seek out.

  • Sevo||

    I'm pretty sure quite a few H'wood libs who voted for the 'tax the rich' schemes have places in, oh, CO. And I'm also sure that if you establish that as a 'primary residence', you can avoid the consequences of your vote.
    183 days?

  • R C Dean||

    It raises an interesting question. CA taxes non-residents on income earned in California.

    If I work a movie that isn't filmed in CA, and live outside of CA, does the fact that other people involved in the movie (editors, production types, the movie studio, etc.) are located in CA expose my income from the movie to CA tax? I never worked a day in CA and don't live there, so I don't see how.

  • OldMexican||

    Re: R C Dean,

    CA taxes non-residents on income earned in California.

    Only if you file.

  • Drake||

    When I lived in LA, half the cars in the neighborhood driveways had Nevada or Utah plates.

  • dave b.||

    Now in Austin, half the cars have California plates.

  • JW||

    Speaking on the findings, a Home Office spokesman recognized the necessity of making the UK an attractive place to live and work in order to retain talented British workers. “To continue competing in a global race, businesses must invest in the skills of UK workers and retain our highly skilled workforce.”

    "And if you don't invest, no worries, no problem at all." [Reaches for big, red button...]

  • Mike M.||

    I really do love it when the Brits call Americans unenlightened. It's the 21st century, and this is a country that still has a freaking "royal family" and where the people are technically still subjects of the queen that we're talking about.

  • Sevo||

    We are not amused.

  • hotsy totsy||

    Brits may just pick up on our unenlightened tax policy of taxing US citizens ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD! You can't just move away, you have to actually give up your citizenship, and now the Feds want to "close that loophole".

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Speaking of taxes on the rich, Bloomberg is reporting this morning on a platoon of emptyheaded do-gooders who are massing for an assault on DC to beg for higher tax rates on teh richy richerz.

    Would our inside-the-beltway people please picket this gathering waving signs with the "Gifts to the Treasury" info on them?

    Giant papier mache puppet heads desirable but not required.

  • Caleb Turberville||

    Just to be clear, why is that Brain Stick-Man destroying the campus of the University of Alabama at Birmingham?

  • Caleb Turberville||

    http://www.skylineproject.org/.....ham/10.jpg

    I mean, the skylines match-up perfectly.

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