HMRC targets local cricket clubs

While HMRC is accused of sweetheart deals with Vodafone and Goldman Sachs - potentially short-changing the taxpayer by billions - HMRC is turning its attention clubs.

Several are under investigation, with the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) sending guidance to clubs - but warning them not to accept HMRC calculations hands-down.

Not cricket?

"We are finding that, as well as pursuing past years' tax liabilities, they are pressuring clubs by seeking up to six years back-tax and charging penalties," Mike Down, head of tax risk and investigation management at tax advisers Baker Tilly, told the Telegraph.

"I am surprised by the aggressive way some inspectors are behaving," one club chairman told the paper. "It's not as if we are tax dodgers. We may be guilty on some minor tax points, but this is going too far."

It's thought one county club has had to find £100,000 in underpaid tax, penalties and interest. However many clubs are run by enthusiasts for the simple love of the game, rather than people schooled in the complexities of tax legislation. If some penalties or fines are demanded, there is the risk some clubs may fold.

Not cheap

Specialist tax advice doesn't come cheap, with the risk clubs could end paying the maximum amount of tax demanded by HMRC, rather than the correct amount of tax a club owes. Exerting the screws on sports clubs while remaining supine in the front of massive corporates appears petty.

As well as hypocritical, in some cases. For example, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury David Gauke - charged with "strategic oversight of the UK tax system including direct, indirect, business, property and personal taxation", according to - billed the taxpayer for £10,248,32 on mortgaged payments for his second home including £8,550 for stamp duty some years ago.

New job for ex HMRC boss

The HMRC crackdown though is a reminder of the need to keep the books legal (something the likes of Amazon and Google also claim). Meanwhile ex boss of HMRC, Dave Hartnett has taken up a new consultancy role with accountancy giant Deloitte, whose clients included Vodafone and Starbucks.

According to Deloitte, Hartnett will be "advising foreign government and tax administrations".

Where are Britain's highest tax bills?

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