HMRC launches appeal against Rangers tax case ruling

The front of Rangers' Ibrox Stadium HMRC alleges that Rangers' EBT scheme should have been subject to income tax

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has lodged an appeal against a tax tribunal ruling in favour of Rangers' use of Employee Benefit Trusts (EBTs).

HMRC had claimed the scheme, which was used from 2001 to 2010 to make £47.65m in payments to players and staff in the form of tax-free loans, was illegal.

Rangers disputed this and a First Tier Tax Tribunal (FTT) ruled the scheme did not breach tax law.

The case will now be heard at an Upper Tier Tax Tribunal (UTT).

HMRC said on Monday that it had been granted leave to appeal against the FTT decision and that the appeal had subsequently been filed.

If the dispute is not settled at the UTT, it is possible that it may go all the way to the Supreme Court - a process that could take years.

The FTT, before three judges, concluded in November, by a majority of two to one, that the EBT payments were loans, not earnings, and so were not liable for income tax.

CVA rejected

Rangers began using the EBT scheme while under the control of Sir David Murray.

He sold the club for £1 to Scottish businessman Craig Whyte in 2011, while the tax liability was in dispute.

Rangers were subsequently forced into administration by HMRC in February 2012, over non-payment of tax totalling about £14m, while under Mr Whyte's control.

HMRC subsequently rejected proposals for a creditors agreement that would have prevented Rangers from going into liquidation.

Administrators Duff and Phelps then negotiated a sale of assets to a consortium led by Charles Green for £5.5m.

He has since re-launched Rangers in the Scottish Third Division.

In a statement on the Rangers website, Green, the club's chief executive, gave his response to the development.

He said: "This is an historic case for The Rangers Football Club plc ('oldco').

"As HMRC stated last June when they decided to vote against the proposed 'oldco' CVA, no tax liabilities relating to 'oldco' would transfer across to the new company. HMRC have also reaffirmed this position to the club's tax advisers, Deloitte.

"What the appeal does do, however, is cast a cloud of uncertainty and confusion over a situation that has already been ruled on and has taken a number of years to investigate.

"There is no money to be gained by HMRC as the old company has been liquidated so you have to ask why they are pursuing the matter further when the original EBT enquiry took years to reach a conclusion?

"I have written in the strongest possible terms to HMRC pointing out the futility of such an appeal."

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