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Island-hopping Beardy Branson: I'm dodging rain, not taxes

Billionaire Brit set up permanent base on Necker Island for 'health' reasons

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Richard Branson has denied that he lives on his Caribbean private island for tax reasons, after a report over the weekend branded him "tax exile".

The Virgin Galactic boss claims he relocated to Necker in the British Virgin Islands for the good of his health and because he loves the 74sq acre self-made resort.

"Seven years ago we decided to move permanently to Necker as we feel it gives me and my wife Joan the best chance to live another productive few decades. We can also look after our health (Joan is approaching 70 and I'm not far behind)," Branson wrote on his blog.

He was responding to a report in The Sunday Times that branded Branson as a tax exile. The paper pointed out that Branson had said back in April that he didn't think people should be leaving the UK because of the tax system.

The paper added that it "understands he is non-resident for the purposes of tax, which means while he will still pay tax on UK income (he has a Virgin Tracker fund among his UK investments) any other income will not be subject to tax in this country".

The Sunday Times said a spokesman had told it that Branson's earlier comments were "inaccurate" and had been "taken out of context".

On his blog today, Branson said that he had no need to live anywhere he didn't want to just to save a bit of cash.

"I have been very fortunate to accumulate so much wealth in my career, more than I need in my lifetime and would not live somewhere I don't want to for tax reasons," he said.

He also emphasised that he'd spent 40 years working in Blighty and now spent a lot of his time on not-for-profit ventures and charity projects.

Branson sold his mansion in west London seven years ago and flogged his estate in Oxfordshire to his children Holly and Sam. ®

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