Skip to comments.What the Taxman Wrought. How Confiscatory Taxes Broke up the Beatles.
Posted on 04/15/2011 6:56:51 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
On April 29, 1909 102 years almost to the day before the Congressional Progressive Caucus proposed its Peoples Budget the British chancellor of the exchequer, David Lloyd George, introduced his own Peoples Budget in Parliament. This budget included something called the super tax, designed specifically to redistribute wealth from the rich to the poor.
Half a century later, in his famous 1966 song Taxman, George Harrison, singing in the guise of a sardonic tax collector, warns listeners that he will keep 19 of every 20 pounds they earn, and concludes his advice with the reminder that youre working for no one but me. Taxman was inspired by the fact that during their heyday, the Beatles were subject to the super tax, meaning that their earnings were taxed at marginal rates of up to 95 percent
Thats not a misprint. And if the story ended there with a song that would be one thing. But the oppressive British tax regime had real and dire consequences for the Beatles.
In 1967, the Beatles were informed that they would need to invest the large pile of cash they had amassed if they wished to avoid a major haircut from Her Majestys tax collectors. In late 1967 and early 1968, the Beatles duly started the ill-starred Apple group of companies Apple Records, Apple Electronics, Apple Films, Apple Publishing, and the Apple Boutique.
Most of the companies under the Apple umbrella began losing money extravagantly and quickly. The Beatles manager, Brian Epstein, had died in August 1967, and they had no idea how to stanch the bleeding. John Lennon, after fearing publicly that he would be broke in another six months, brought in Allen Klein, a divisive figure who affected a gangsters air of bluntness, to take an axe to the Apple tree. Over McCartneys objections he was outvoted 3 to 1 Klein began to manage the Beatles affairs.
Klein was on a collision course with McCartney from day one. Kleins laser focus on money often slighted artistic goals witness the doctored Let It Be tapes, released without McCartneys consent. McCartney, finding the prospect of continuing with Klein unacceptable, ultimately enraged the other Beatles by suing them to dissolve their partnership in 1970.
This story is widely known. But what often gets overlooked is the fact that without the potent tax dilemma, it is doubtful that the Apple group of companies would ever have been founded in the first place. In other words, no super tax, no Apple fiasco. No Apple fiasco, no Allen Klein. No Allen Klein, no lawsuit.
In fact, from beyond the grave, Lloyd George had forced the Beatles to spend more time figuring out how to shelter their wealth than making music. It is hard to believe that they would not have behaved more rationally, and stayed together longer as a working band, under a milder tax policy.
The Beatles were not an isolated case. These same tax pressures eventually drove the Rolling Stones to become expatriates in order to continue working, famously living in the south of France in 1971 while recording their masterpiece, Exile on Main Street. While the Stones survived as a working unit, they bore the pain of literal exiles for some of them, permanent exiles from their homeland.
Creative ruin. Litigation. Exile. Lloyd George unintentionally, but quite effectively, all but destroyed Londons status as the musical and artistic hub of the world as the 1960s gave way to the 1970s.
On this tax day, it is worth noting the lessons the Beatles and the Stones offer to todays architects of tax policy about the possible unintended consequences of their spending reductions in the tax code.
They may be laying traps for artists and musicians yet unborn. As the song has it, tomorrow never knows.
George Cassidy is co-author, with Richard Courtney, of Come Together: The Business Wisdom of The Beatles.
How the British destroyed their own great country and their most famous artists. I seem to remember reading that the Rolling Stones, too, at one point had to go live in France, of all outlandish places, to avoid being bankrupted.
Well, THERE’S a whole lot of it wasn’t Yoko.
“Spending reductions in the tax code”
“Kinetic military action”
And many more. It’s as if people (excluding most Freepers) don’t understand the implications of a government that uses such blatant newspeak and doublethink...
Freepthinkers doubleplussunbellyfeel Obamasoc.
You learn a lot by reading. I just learned today that TAXMAN was written by George Harrison and not Lennon/McCartney.
But if Paul sang that piece with the Beatles, why is he still supporting strongly, the ultimate Taxman himself — Barack Obama?
“I seem to remember reading that the Rolling Stones, too, at one point had to go live in France, of all outlandish places, to avoid being bankrupted.”
You may have read it in the article that is posted.
Because he's a typical limousine liberal, a leftist hypocrite who believes in "taxes for thee but not for me".
See my tagline.
Didn’t McCartney claim Tuscon as his home? Lennon claimed NYC & Starr claim L.A?
It became a regular cottage industry in the UK to help wealthy folks, show biz types especially, find other places to live. Roger Moore ended up in Switzerland. Mick Jagger got a nice place in Jamaica. Others flew the coop for places like Spain, France, and South America.
So much for "soaking the rich". They just leave. They've got the money to do it. So who gets stuck with the tax bill then? Same ones as always, the ordinary working schmucks. Why don't people ever call these lousy demagogue politicians when they start spouting their "tax the rich" crap?
the Congressional Progressive Caucus proposed its Peoples Budget
People’s Budget?! Sounds like something Mao Zedong or the Soviet Politburo would have come up with.
Bump for later.
RE: Didnt McCartney claim Tuscon as his home?
Who is Jo Jo?
As in the song GET BACK :
“Jo Jo left his home in Tucson, Arizona, for some California grass”
Since Ringo chose in California, my guess is, he’s singing about the Beatle Drummer :)
“Half a century later, in his famous 1966 song Taxman, George Harrison, singing in the guise of a sardonic tax collector, warns listeners that he will keep 19 of every 20 pounds they earn,”
this isn’t quite right, the reason it’s “one for you, nineteen for me” is because at the time a pound was made up of 20 shillings, each shilling being 12 pennies. 19 shillings would be 95%. I still have a bag of silver shillings kicking around the place somewhere. the money system was changed when I was in junior school, circa 1972 to the 100 pence system they still use today.
McCartney didn’t sing Taxman, Harrison did.
I have been "exercising the mind," so to speak, on how to bring true accountability to those that cause these problems and use government force to do damage to the individual. We have a means of recompense through the legal system (I know but it's all we have) so would it be possible to directly sue congressmen for damages such as being forced into defacto exile or being bankrupted by overzealous taxing authorities. I don't think it would be likely to directly sue any elected official because you get into the problem of making any controversial vote becoming nothing more than lawyer bait on both sides (Although I'd love to see Frank & Dodd on the stand having to justify their power to force banks into bad business practices.) Perhaps the individual agents of the government could be directly sued though. Should the local IRS office send one of their minions around to a the clients of a business and tell them they had better not do business with them because there is an investigation coming and they don't want to be involved, then, that particular agent could be sued for damages and quite possibly the chain of command in that IRS office as well.
This is something that would need a better legal mind than mine to work out the details but it would at least bring accountability to the insulated bureaucrats we have now.
Ginkgo Biloba; I’ve heard it helps.
Paul didn't sing it. George did.