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Tax avoidance scheme draws fresh legal challenge from celebrities

Cinema-Reel-Movie-Film-Projector-700.jpgInvestors including celebrities and football managers are eyeing up a landmark legal challenge against an unsuccessful tax avoidance scheme.

The case around film scheme Eclipse 35 made it all the way to the Supreme Court last year after HMRC demanded payment of disputed tax bills.

Judges sided with the taxman that the film partnership was not a legitimate scheme and was designed to avoid tax.

Former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson and former England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson were among around 780 investors who put £2.2bn into the scheme, which channeled money, bolstered by loans, into film rights, which would then be relicensed back to the studio.

Interest on the loan generated a loss for investors which offset other income for tax purposes.

HMRC ramps up tax bills over film partnerships

Around 200 of the members are now set to take legal action against Barclays, Bank of Ireland, HSBC and Disney for misrepresenting how likely tax breaks would be through the scheme, according to The Times.

The action could amount to £100m, the paper reports.

Managing partner at Milestone International Tax Miles Dean says: “Film schemes are inherently complex tax arrangements and it is very likely that many of those investing were completely unaware of the associated tax risks. However, it is highly likely that all the investors will have signed waivers so the burden of proof will be very high, limiting their chance of success in court.”

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