Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Churchill Series - Jan. 15, 2008

(One of a series of weekday posts about the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

November 30, 1927 was Churchill's fifty-eighth birthday.

As Chancellor of the Exchequer, he spent part of the day reviewing the budget he'd soon submit to Parliament. Among its thousands of details, he was surprised to notice one that taxed people temporarily residing in the United Kingdom.

The tax fell mainly on wealthy Americans who came over for fox hunting. Churchill had previously rejected it in very strong language.

To the bureaucrats charged with budget preparation, Churchill dictated :

Two years ago, I examined the question of the extension of taxation, i.e. Americans temporarily resident in this country.

I expressed very strongly the view that it was to our interest to facilitate the use of this country for the temporary residence of wealthy Americans as it brought very substantial sums of money into the rural areas, especially in the sporting counties.
Churchill reminded the bureaucrats of why he opposed the tax:
a considerable number of wealthy Americans, who used to spend very large sums of money (in fox hunting areas)and elsewhere (will) sell their horses and quit the country, while no doubt others are being deterred from coming.
As a countryman who enjoyed riding to hounds, steeple-chasing and shooting parties, and as a sensible person, Churchill understood how a tax that drove away "wealthy Americans" would also reduce the incomes of the maids, cooks, butlers and stableman who served hunting parties; and the woodcutters, greengrocers and butchers who filled orders from the great houses where the parties stayed; and the incomes of many others in the "sporting counties."
Details of Churchill's actions on Nov. 30, 1927 can be found in Martin Gilbert, Churchill and America.(Free Press, 2005) (p.107)

Churchill's appreciation for how taxes on the wealthy can affect other economic classes is well-documented by many of his biographers as is his understanding and love of country life.