Did the 50p tax rate drive bankers out of Britain?

Opponents of the 50p top rate of tax argued that it would encourage bankers and other high earners to leave the country. In their opinion this is a bad thing.

Interestingly there is very little concrete evidence that this has happened. But the Swiss Federal Migration Office does count the number of Britons entering Switzerland to work, and notes what industry they work in.

In 2011 the number of bankers taking up residence in the Alps was just 320, 16.4% below the previous year’s figure of 383. Not much of a mass exodus.

It’s a figure which has been surprisingly widely quoted since I first started publishing it in 2010. It made the front page story (£) of the Times on Budget Day 2012, and was quoted by Vince Cable MP, the Institute for Fiscal Studies and even HMRC itself.

I find it surprising that no more thorough research on this topic has been done – I expect the Swiss would be reasonably forthcoming if asked nicely. But then this was never an evidence-based policy. So what need evidence?

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