Celebrity investors face £520m tax bill in HMRC crackdown
Over a thousand celebrities and senior business figures are facing a £520m tax bill as HMRC starts to demand immediate upfront payment of disputed tax demands relating to investments in alleged tax avoidance schemes say Harris & Co accountants Northampton #accountantsnorthampton
Ingenious Media, an investment company which has provided schemes using film partnerships, has written to 1,300 investors warning them that they face being asked to repay all the tax they saved, possibly with interest.
Former investors in one of the firm’s film partnership schemes include Sam Laidlaw, chief executive of Centrica, and Lloyd Dorfman, founder of the foreign exchange firm Travelex. They both resigned from the partnership in 2011.
Dame Clara Furse, former chief executive of the London Stock Exchange, and Lord (Michael) Grade, former chairman of both the BBC and ITV, were also members until 2011. Other investors included entertainers and the footballers David Beckham, Steven Gerrard and Ryan Giggs.
Ingenious Media has always denied HMRC’s allegations that it is involved in a series of schemes that were not legitimate investment opportunities but a means of avoiding tax and is set to fight a case at tribunal in November this year.
Margaret Hodge chair of the Commons public accounts committee, has previously accused Ingenious Media of ‘exploiting a well-intentioned tax relief to try to get individuals to mitigate their taxes’.
In a statement released today, the company said: Ingenious has been trying to obtain a definitive ruling on the tax status of its film and games partnerships for many years. The company requested a hearing before the tax tribunal in 2011 to resolve this matter as expeditiously as possible, but HMRC has repeatedly used stalling tactics to delay a hearing. The matter is now finally scheduled before the tax tribunal in November this year and it is fundamentally unjust to demand payment before the tribunal has given its ruling.
Following this year’s budget the government announced a £7bn crackdown that will require taxpayers to make immediate payments of disputed tax bills in alleged tax avoidance schemes over the past 10 years. The beginning of July marked the start of payment demands and HMRC has made clear it will focus first on those who put money into particularly big or high risk schemes. HMRC is due to publish a list of the schemes affected in the next few weeks.
Ingenious is said to have warned its investors that time was running out if they wanted to take up a settlement offer from HMRC which, it is believed, would see their tax bills reduced by allowing tax relief on the cash element of their investment but not the part funded by borrowings.