J.K. Rowling's 'Single Mother Manifesto'

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When people become fabulously wealthy, they often use complex accounting procedures to shift their wealth to a country that won't tax them as heavily. But Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, whose net worth of around $1 billion makes her one of Britain's wealthiest persons, doesn't want to dodge the country's heavy taxes. In her "Single Mother's Manifesto" published in the Times of London, she explains that the U.K. welfare system, which she relied on for years as a struggling single mother, is just too important.

I chose to remain a domiciled taxpayer for a couple of reasons. The main one was that I wanted my children to grow up where I grew up, to have proper roots in a culture as old and magnificent as Britain’s; to be citizens, with everything that implies, of a real country, not free-floating ex-pats, living in the limbo of some tax haven and associating only with the children of similarly greedy tax exiles.

A second reason, however, was that I am indebted to the British welfare state; the very one that Mr Cameron would like to replace with charity handouts. When my life hit rock bottom, that safety net, threadbare though it had become under John Major’s Government, was there to break the fall. I cannot help feeling, therefore, that it would have been contemptible to scarper for the West Indies at the first sniff of a seven-figure royalty cheque. This, if you like, is my notion of patriotism. On the available evidence, I suspect that it is Lord Ashcroft’s idea of being a mug.

Rowling touches on many other issues: The U.K. political system, the importance of child welfare laws, the role of the state in alleviating poverty. She makes her past as a struggling single mother--instead of her current status as a wealthy person--her defining perspective.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.