Celebrities fail to escape £700m tax bill

LOS ANGELES - OCT 1: David Beckham at the Time Warner Sports Launch of TWC Sportsnet and TWC Deportes Networks at TWC Sports Stu

Stars including David Beckham, Gary Lineker and Ant and Dec have failed in their attempt to get a massive tax bill overturned.

The celebrities had invested in a company called Ingenious, which enabled clients to cut their tax bill by investing in big-budget movies including Die Hard 4.0, The Life of Pi and Avatar.

SEE ALSO:Is this the reason why Beckham hasn't been knighted yet?

See also: Celebrities advised to pay disputed tax

They then recorded losses amounting to more than £1 billion, which could be offset against other earnings to reduce tax.

Each invested at least £100,000 in the scheme - a total of £700 million altogether.

However, the scheme aroused the suspicions of the Treasury, which as part of a £5 billion crack-down on "aggressive and contrived" tax avoidance schemes, last year started issuing tax demands to Ingenious's clients.

And while they appealed, a tax tribunal has now ruled against them, with judge Charles Hellier saying the investments were not "allowable deductions".

HMRC has been cracking down on tax avoidance schemes over the last three years, and now expects to recoup a massive £5.5 billion in unpaid tax by the end of this year.

Earlier this year, chancellor Philip Hammond announced plans to fine accountants, bankers and lawyers who create elaborate schemes to help the wealthy avoid paying their fair share.

"[Tax avoidance] involves operating within the letter, but not the spirit, of the law," says HMRC.

"Most tax avoidance schemes simply do not work, and those who engage in them can find they pay more than the tax they attempted to save, once HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has successfully challenged them."

This latest decision affects around 1,400 investors, including Wayne Rooney, Bob Geldof, Davina McCall, Robbie Williams and Jeremy Paxman.

Many say they were badly advised, and that they had no idea that the scheme was suspect.

David Beckham, though, must be feeling particularly upset at the news.

The tax scandal is widely believed to be the reason that he wasn't given a knighthood earlier this year, despite having been recommended for one by Olympics chief Lord Coe.

Celebrities caught out by a tax bill
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Celebrities caught out by a tax bill

The former Eastender and 'I’m A Celebrity' winner was declared bankrupt a year after winning the reality show - when he didn't pay a £20,000 tax bill.

Talking about it last year, he said: “I just got caught up in it, man. I don’t want to blame anyone, but as a kid you end up spending money on sh*t. But these tax men, they find you, mate. You live and learn, don’t ya.”

The singer and reality star is no stranger to bankruptcy, but the first time she ran into trouble was in August 2008, when she failed to pay the final £82,000 of a £417,000 tax bill.

The former Sugarbabe was declared bankrupt last year. She was ordered to file for bankruptcy by the High Court, after failing to pay a tax bill.

A spokesperson explained the whole thing was simply an administrative error.

The TV presenter filed for bankruptcy in 2011 over an unpaid tax bill of more than £170,000.

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