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HMRC wins major tax avoidance cases

One tax avoidance scheme, by Ingenious Film Partnership, tried to use artificial losses arising from investments in a range of movies, including the blockbusters Avatar, Life of Pi and Die Hard 4.

Users of the Ingenious scheme were given the opportunity to settle on similar terms nearly four years ago and now face big bills for interest and legal fees on top of the £434 million in unpaid tax resulting from the scheme.

Director General of Enforcement & Compliance Jennie Granger said:

“These were some of the biggest films of all time, and the schemes involved people claiming far more in tax than they invested in the first place. We always say that if something is too good to be true then it probably is. And in this case the long legal battle will mean that investors face even bigger bills for interest and legal costs.”

The second scheme saw Icebreaker attempt to create artificial losses from investments in limited liability partnerships.

For both schemes users claimed more in tax relief than they had invested.

The Icebreaker decision is HMRC’s second win against the scheme, following a victory in the First Tier Tribunal in 2014. The total tax at stake was £134 million.

This means that HMRC has now secured more than £1.2 billion in disputed tax from wins in avoidance litigation since the beginning of April.

It also comes on the back of HMRC’s continued success tackling tax avoidance through the Accelerated Payments regime. In the two years since the legislation was introduced, more than £2.5billion has been paid on Accelerated Payment Notices, and more than 50,000 notices have been issued.