News story

HMRC tax tribunal victory saves £190m

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

A tax avoidance scheme in which over £6 million of shares were sold for £592 would have left UK taxpayers to pick up the tab.

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HMRC challenged the scheme and won a clear victory against the promoter, Matthew Jenner of NT Advisors, who pushed the plan to over 400 wealthy people in 2006. HMRC’s intervention has protected around £190 million of tax.

NT Advisors’ idea was to generate a massive loss on the sale of the shares, but a loss that would not have exposed the “investors” to any genuine risk or economic down side. The “loss” existed only on paper and was designed to avoid tax. Ruling against the scheme last month, a Tax Tribunal described this sleight of hand as “magic”.

Under the scheme NT Advisors put together a series of loans and share transactions involving SG Hambros bank in the Channel Islands. Shares in a British Virgin Island company, which had been set up for the purpose, were sold to investors for millions of pounds more than they were worth. The money for the shares put up by Hambros passed through the company and straight back to Hambros. The users of the scheme were left owing money to offshore trusts created for their own benefit, so that it did not matter that they never actually paid for the shares.

The Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, David Gauke, said:

This was a highly complex avoidance scheme that was not worth buying into. HMRC will always challenge schemes like this so not only will investors have to pay the tax they owe, they will also have to pay interest; all this on top of the promoter’s fees.

The Government has made almost £1 billion available to HMRC to tackle the issues of avoidance, evasion and fraud and ensure that the minority who try to avoid their responsibilities pay the tax they owe.

This case is listed as “Steven Price, John Myers and James Lucas v HMRC” and will shortly appear on the First-tier Tribunal’s website

This is the third successive HMRC victory against tax avoidance schemes promoted by NT Advisors:

In December 2012 the First-tier Tribunal found for HMRC in the case of Andrew Chappell v HMRC

In January 2011 the First-tier Tribunal found for HMRC in the case of Nicholas Barnes v HMRC

Mr Barnes lost again in July 2012 when the Upper Tribunal dismissed his appeal

In July 2012 HMRC consulted on ways to make people more aware of the risks of engaging in high-risk tax avoidance schemes that do not deliver the tax result claimed, such as those promoted by NT Advisors. See Lifting the Lid on Tax Avoidance Schemes

Responses to the consultation and next steps

In March 2013 HMRC published Levelling the Tax Playing Field reporting on progress made in cracking down on avoidance and evasion.

Published 30 May 2013