When the Rolling Stones Hit the Laffer Curve

Michelle V. Agins/The New York Time

An interview with the Rolling Stones reveals some of their business and wealth-protection strategies. “The whole business thing is predicated a lot on the tax laws,” said Keith Richards. “It’s why we rehearse in Canada and not in the U.S. A lot of our astute moves have been basically keeping up with tax laws, where to go, where not to put it. Whether to sit on it or not. We left England because we’d be paying 98 cents on the dollar. [This may sound like an exaggeration, but likely isn't.] We left, and they lost out. No taxes at all. I don’t want to screw anybody out of anything, least of all the governments that I work with. We put 30% in holding until we sort it out.”

The story of the Stones’ flight from Britain because of taxes is told a bit more fully in the recent documentary Stones in Exile, which was quite good. (Shine a Light, meanwhile, was a disappointment.)

As much as I love Keith Richards – am reading his memoir Life, and loving it as much as the critics – the likelihood is that his bandmate Mick Jagger is more responsible for the band’s business strategies. He is, as we put it earlier here, a true profit maximizer.

(HT: Greg Mankiw) [%comments]

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  1. Under their thumbs... says:

    A lot of Canadian women thought it was because of them.

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  2. Mr Eugenides says:

    98% is, indeed, not an exaggeration. The Labour government of the 1970s had a 98% tax on very high earners (not sure of the threshold). It was abolished by Margaret Thatcher’s government and remained at 40% for a couple of decades.

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  3. DaveyNC says:

    But, but, but…governments can raise taxes and people will just pay them! Everybody knows that!

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  4. Nikki says:

    Shine a Light is excellent. A short appearance of Christina Aguilera is not sufficient to make a film disappointing any more than a one-time post by an irrelevant TV actor is enough to make an economics blog disappointing.

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  5. Mike B says:

    So it looks like the Republicans were right…assuming that the majority of taxpayers take up a nomadic lifestyle with no ties to any particular country. It’s ironic that the party that coined the term “America: Love it or Leave it” would be most likely to leave it due to tax considerations. ::rolls eyes::

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  6. DaveyNC says:

    Mike @5: Isn’t it worth considering why a nomadic lifestyle has such advantages now? Maybe, just maybe, something is broken in our economic system.

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  7. Jon Martinez says:

    Bill Flanagan’s new novel “Evening’s Empire” covers the british tax situation in the sixties pretty well. Basically they taxed the income of the up and coming individuals that could challenge the status quo with their new wealth. Those individuals left the country to avoid taxation and the threat was eliminated. The landed gentry’s capital gains were never taxed at high rate thus protecting their wealth and control of the government.

    The same thing is happening here. Different levels of taxation, but the result seems to be quite similar.

    If you don’t believe me just look at the division of wealth trends in the last 30 years or so. It’s not whether taxes are high or low, it’s what is taxed and right now it is highly inequitable and our society is poorer for it.

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  8. econobiker says:

    Capitalist money knows no patriotic causes.

    The Rolling Stone’s tax avoidance issues pale beside instances of global multi-national corporations manipulating profit taking, taking tax credits, and hopping around to different countries for corporate registrations/hq’s etc in order to avoid tax responsibilities.

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