Tax Exile

Some people are at pains to point out that Morrissey is a foreign racist, unentitled to opinions about Britain. He’s got Irish immigrant parents and he’s a ‘tax exile’.

For a long time now Morrissey has lived in self-imposed exile: hiding out in LA sneering at Britian for being a “dead” country; refusing to talk to the press because they dared to level criticism at him in the past; isolated from anything like musical progress and excised from the hearts of many, horrified by the messy “flirtation” with racist imagery. (Victoria Segal, NME, November 1999)

The “racist imagery”

Culture is something that is ever evolving. There is no single ‘British culture’ that needs to be preserved. Whether or not Morrissey’s comments were taken out of context, or misquoted, I don’t know. However, if he did say what he was quoted as saying, he needs to be aware of how that will be interpreted. Apparently the Sun has come out in support of his comments, with a diatribe about immigrants coming over here, taking our jobs etc etc. It is also interesting that a tax exile who lives in Italy should feel qualified to comment on British culture. (Mark, Macclesfield, comment on BBC Radio 6 News website, November 2007)

“Forty-eight-year-old tax exile millionaire slams immigration” doesn’t make for much of a headline. Nor does “66-year-old millionairess businesswoman votes Conservative”. But if the millionaire is a pop star (Morrissey) and the millionairess a fashion designer (Vivienne Westwood) somehow these things are meant to be shocking. Actually, what Morrissey told the New Musical Express wasn’t at all shocking. The singer, who now lives in Rome, said he thought taxes had been raised too high under the guise of saving the planet, that politicians don’t listen to voters and that Britain has changed its identity enormously since his youth. He added that he had nothing against people from other countries; just that a country changes when it lets in lots of those people. (Henry Mount, the Telegraph, November 2007)

He has also weighed into the Brexit debate on numerous [3] occasions, despite not having lived in the UK for some time. (Simon Binns, Manchester Evening News, June 2018)

In 1995 he moved to Los Angeles. In 2005, talking to GQ, he agreed to the proposition that he had been “hounded out of England by the press”… this is the sort of nonsense that can take hold in a person increasingly insulated from contradiction…
Ever since then, dog whistle by increasingly unsubtle dog whistle, living in splendid isolation from his home country and the consequences of his remarks, Morrissey has put himself beyond, and further beyond the pale. (David Stubbs, the Quietus, July 2019)

Freudian choice of metaphor – the pale was a fence to keep the unacceptable Irish away from English settlers.

As always – Morrissey is bad no matter which way you cut it – so his attitude to tax is reactionary even without the exile:

This isn’t the first time Morrissey, who briefly worked for the Inland Revenue, has had a pop at the taxman. There’s always been a slightly reactionary, tabloid strain to his thinking… and he’s repeatedly attacked the whole apparatus of the apparently incompetent state: policemen, judges, and specifically the tax office on The World is Full of Crashing Bores.
In doing so, Moz is following in a long line of “right on” rock stars who can’t understand the point of giving your money to a politician (hey, what would they know?) in the name of wealth distribution and social cohesion. (Tony Naylor, the Guardian, November 2007)

Morrissey has never been caught in a tax avoidance scheme.

On a side note: Morrissey mentioned Brexit once, after the referendum, which he didn’t vote in. He then mentioned it twice in response to the negative reaction from the first. Despite this he’s routinely described as a “vocal supporter” and it’s been given as a reason why the Smiths (which Morrissey has no interest in reforming) will never reform – because Marr is the good Smith and Morrissey is filth.

Interview with Johnny Marr, November 2016