HMRC drops further £5m from Rangers tax claim

Image source, SNS

HMRC's claim against the company which owned Rangers has fallen again, according to the latest report from liquidators BDO.

It shows a drop from an initial estimate of £94m to just over £67m.

The previous report highlighted HMRC's decision to drop penalties totalling £24m, relating to the company's use of Employee Benefit Trusts (EBTs).

This time there is a drop of £5.2m relating to VAT and PAYE. The final HMRC bill is still being disputed.

The bill currently includes a claim of £48m over the use of EBTs, a figure that BDO continues to dispute, with a resolution not expected until next year.

Image source, Jeff J Mitchell
Image caption,
Sir David Murray was the owner of Rangers when it set up the EBTs

The tax claim does not relate to the current Rangers set-up and it is not liable for any of the back-tax claim.

The dispute involves the way some players were being paid from 2001 to 2009 by the company that then owned Rangers, and the tax that was not being paid on that income.

Money was put into Employee Benefit Trusts (EBTs), located in offshore tax havens.

HM Revenue and Customs said the scheme was tax avoidance and hit Rangers with a bill to pay back tens of millions of pounds.

With that bill hanging over the club, it struggled to find a buyer when Sir David Murray put it on the market.

Craig Whyte bought the Rangers organisation for £1 in May 2011 and it went into liquidation the following year.

BDO, the liquidators of the old company that controlled Ibrox, have continued to tussle with the tax authority about the total bill.

In June, it emerged that HMRC had removed a penalty of £24m, after an appeal to the tax authority's Penalty Review Consistency Panel.

A report in The Times newspaper last month suggested the bill could be further reduced, as negotiations and legal manoeuvres continue.

It said the final EBT-related tax bill could be down to about £20m.

Image source, AFP

The Times reported that former Rangers chairman John McClelland had said that ambiguity over the tax burden repelled genuine investors and paved the way for Rangers' collapse.

Mr McClelland said that if a £20m tax bill had been agreed during his tenure it would have been relatively simple for the Ibrox club to find a credible buyer.

The latest liquidator's report said the current HMRC claim is £67.5m.

That is made up of £48.8m for the EBT claim, as well as other tax claims and VAT, PAYE and National Insurance payments.

The BDO report said: "The Joint Liquidators and their tax specialists remain in a dialogue with HMRC with a view to seeking to resolve the remaining issues."

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