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2 Feb 2015 12:09pm

Ingenious investors saved £26m in tax breaks

Singer Robbie Williams, ex-footballer David Beckham and fashion-designer wife Victoria, and Liverpool FC captain Steven Gerrard have been named in the ongoing battle between the Ingenious investment company and HMRC

Documents seen by The Sunday Times reveal the names of 140 investors in Ingenious Media, who, it says, saved a total of £26m in tax breaks. Ingenious used tax breaks aimed at boosting investment in the British film industry but, if HMRC wins its battle to prove that the scheme is avoidance, they could face significant repayment bills.

According to The Sunday Times, the list shows that Williams could have secured £2m in tax breaks through investing. The Beckhams could have saved up to £1m, and Gerrard, the former England football captain, could have saved £386,585. Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly – better known Ant and Dec – together could have saved £200,000 using the scheme, while Davina McCall and Jeremy Paxman were entitled to save £150,000 and £50,000 respectively.

Ingenious maintains that its investment schemes were legitimate film partnerships. “All bar one of the 65 films produced by the partnerships currently being examined by the Tribunal have achieved a theatrical release,” a spokesperson said.

"HMRC has failed to distinguish between commercial businesses and tax avoidance schemes and have, without proper consideration, deemed all film arrangements to be tax schemes."

The Sun revealed last week that BBC pundits Danny Murphy and Martin Keown had been hit with a substantial tax bill over their investments in ingenious.

Ingenious was forced to warn past both past and current investors that they faced an HMRC investigation in July last year. They were warned they could be faced to repay all of their saved tax, possibly with interest.

Around the same time, a tax tribunal found that an avoidance scheme, known as Icebreaker, was a conscious attempt to avoid tax. High profile participants included Take That’s Gary Barlow. The tribunal ruled that the scheme was “known and understood by all concerned to be a tax avoidance scheme”.

HMRC's court battle with a number of film partnerships operated by Ingenious began in November and is expected to resume later this month.

Ellie Clayton

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