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HMRC wins latest Supreme Court film scheme fight

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HMRC has been handed a victory by the Supreme Court, which ruled against a group of film scheme investors seeking to appeal a February decision that their actions constituted tax avoidance.

The tax office has been engaged in a long-running legal battle with the Eclipse 35 group since 2011, with courts repeatedly ruling in favour of HMRC.

Yesterday, the Supreme Court rejected the group’s petition to appeal a February 2015 ruling, with judges also denying the investors a further chance to appeal.

“I’m afraid we’ve heard nothing that persuades us that the Court of Appeal went wrong in this case,” Lord Neuberger, president of the Supreme Court said.

It is the latest in a series of battles for HMRC on the topic of film schemes.

In December a ruling granted a group of 150 film scheme investors permission to appeal a High Court verdict, which also found in favour of HMRC, just weeks before a former financial adviser was jailed for six years for his role in a film scheme fraud.

And in November, reports emerged of a pair of advisers who earned more than £5m from recommending film scheme investments worth a total of £100m to some of the biggest names in British football.

Such verdicts led HMRC to write to film investment schemes in January, offering a deal to settle long-running tax disputes, and encouraging film partnerships to avoid further investigation and the cost of going to court.

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