Oliver Reed in Guernsey

Oliver Reed moved to Guernsey in the late 1970s. A move to Guernsey was unusual, as many of his fellow actors were instead choosing to relocate to the United States at the time – and California in particular – to escape the British government’s high rates of taxation.

Oliver Reed’s first home in Guernsey

Oliver Reed didn’t immediately buy a house or flat on Guernsey, but lodged at the Duke of Normandie Hotel in St Peter Port.

While staying at the hotel he got into some trouble, after he broke a window when trying to find his friend. He was intoxicated at the time and wearing only his underwear. Moreover, the window was not in his friend’s room, but in the hotel’s staff quarters. He was taken into police custody and later explained what had happened in a TV interview.

Oliver Reed leaves the Duke of Normandie

Despite the incident with the window, Oliver Reed remained at the Duke of Normandie for a year, after which he moved into his own property. He lived there for 15 years with his girlfriend – and later wife – Josephine Burge.

The tax that drove Oliver Reed to Guernsey

Leaving your home country to live as a tax exile isn’t a step you’d take lightly, so just how high was the British level of income tax that encouraged Oliver Reed to move to Guernsey?

The answer: very high.

Britain wasn’t always so afraid of taxing its highest earners as it seems to be today, and in 1974 the top rate of income tax was raised from 75% to 83% (so the government received 83p from every £1 earned). On top of this, a surcharge of 15% was made on any investment income. So, anyone paying the top level of income tax on their earnings would receive just 2p for every £1 of profit they made in investments.

The Channel Islands, on the other hand, had no income tax. It’s easy to see why someone with the potential to earn millions as an actor in blockbuster films would have been tempted to move to Guernsey.

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