4 Feb 2013

HMRC and the ‘Big Tax Case’: no victory yet except for the lawyers

The news that the HMRC press office should email the press with information for them seems to have upset some Rangers supporters. Let me tell them that a colleague of mine recently described the HMRC press office in the following terms:

“They will tell you on the record that they cannot comment. Off the record they’ll tell you ‘no comment.’ ”

This is not an observation I have had any reason to disagree with. They are nothing if not professional in terms of what they can and cannot tell you. So some around Govan should stop throwing the proverbial toys out of the cot, calm down and stop screaming about leaks and the need to have reporters arrested.

Since there was doubt in some quarters about precisely where the world is with the Big Tax Case appeal, I left a couple of questions with the HMRC press office a few days ago. They duly answered them today with effect that their leave to appeal was lodged and duly granted.

It all now moves to the high court – almost certainly in London.

It will take a very long time indeed and will cost a very great deal of money. But HMRC is keen to fight this one right to the end, not least because the kind of tax avoidance scheme used for many years at Rangers under Sir David Murray is also used by thousands of other UK firms including large football clubs in England. Thus far, it is all perfectly legal.

The high court appeal will look solely into interpretations of facts in the law of taxation. That is, it will not look at determining facts all over again. The first tier tax tribunal (FTTT) did that and it ruled by majority verdict, for instance, that the payments that have not been repaid by former Rangers directors and players were loans and legal. It’s avoidance, not evasion, by majority verdict.

This was widely – and quite wrongly – misreported around Glasgow as a victory in the case for Rangers old company. It was not. It was a victory in that stage of the process and indeed a significant one.

However the grounds for appeal in terms of interpretation of facts in law have now been accepted. In short, to coin a phrase from the current case looking into Rangers’ declaration of payments to players: “There is a case to answer.”

Last word to Charles Green who rightly observed after the FTTT decision that nobody has won. He was right then and right now. At this stage the only certain victory is the remuneration of more battalions of lawyers.

Tweets by @alextomo

12 reader comments

  1. JohnO says:

    Alex, who is picking up the legal bill for Rangers 1872 (IL). As far as I can see, BDO will not be, Sevco will not be as they are a new club, so will it be MIH, who are 40% owned by LTSB, who in turn were bailed out by the taxpayer.

    1. Bigduds1 says:

      OBSESSED bawhahah

    2. JackGlasgow says:

      …and your point is exactly ?

  2. whistle says:

    Outside of Scotland they will be treated like everybody else, deep trouble awaits on the other side of Hadrians Wall.

  3. Leonard says:

    “It all now moves to the high court – almost certainly in London.”

    It moves to the Upper Tribunal in Edinburgh

  4. Kevin McAuley says:

    It’s nice to hear exactly what’s going on for a change and hear both sides.

    The Media in Scotland wouldn’t produce both sides, their circulation is dropping so rapidly due to their unbalanced reporting that they appear now to have decided to go with what the Sevco followers (majority of population) want to hear and read meaning, yet again, the new ‘The Rangers International plc’ fans will be misled and told even more half truths…

    Now this new information coming to light about Far East business men looking to take out a winding up order against the new Sevco due to monies being owed to them will not be fully investigated untiul it is yet again too late, and yet again Sevco’s fans will blame others for the ‘misfortunes’ (according to some) and happenings against their club.

    “Conspiracy” they’ll cry… “erm, no” they’ll be told… the information is out there, now!!! Go find out about it, read up on it, do something… don’t just sit there greetin’ into your cornflakes.

    Ask Chuckles Green where the £22.5m is!!! Why is it not in Sevco bank accounts?! Why are their very strong rumours circulating that your new entity might be wound up?!

    Instead of attacking Alex Thompson for delivering the information, try listening to it and doing something about it…

  5. gerry m says:

    if hmrc win this appeal what’s the likely out come for servco?

  6. Del says:

    I hear far east investors in Sevco are demanding their money back. Could it be theres a St Valentines massacre part 2 or even a sequel to Downfall.Mmmmmm

  7. tonybrown says:

    JohnO… nice to see concern(and the usual unhealthy obsession) from a tim on the Rangers….this team sevco.. cannot find anyone by that name in the Scottish league set up…but plenty of mention of Scotlands most successful club ,Rangers, and their history on any credible football authority site including UEFA.

  8. Market Square Hero says:

    I see Stan Collymore is experiencing the wrath of some of Rangers “fans” on Twitter tonight for daring to criticise their club.

  9. GW says:

    The problem about litigation fought to its ultimate end is how slowly it moves. The press want a sexy story, myriads of people with no insight into the facts are happy to put up their opinions, but the reality is that it is a process that grinds. Grinds very finely if left to do its job, but with little respect for our human desire for tales and stories that hold our concentration for some cheap point that reinforces our own pre-existing opinions. The law is liable to be developed to a new end as a result of this case, and all the sound and fury that has surrounded the process will be replaced with certainty which may inform us all what is and is not legal in future. Dull, but necessary.

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