Springfords LLP blog

Some news, views and comments about everything and anything, relevant and irreverent.

Wayne's World

07 March 2013

He has probably had better weeks. As if it wasn't bad enough to be missing from Tuesday night's starting line-up for what turned out to be ManU's exit from the Champions League, Wayne Rooney is hitting the front page headlines now too.

The Press reports today that Wayne is among a number of sports stars who have invested in tax schemes intended to benefit from business property renovation allowances. HMRC are continuing to challenge tax avoidance schemes and the spotlight is now being shone on what they regard as 'entirely artificial' structured schemes taking investment for 'tax shelter properties'.

The arrangements are grabbing HMRC's attention now, hard on the heels of film partnership investments and employee benefit trusts. The Public Accounts Committee have joined the chase too with its Chair, Margaret Hodge, pledging that Parliament must do more to tighten the rules.

All this is further confirmation, if indeed further evidence is needed, that the affairs of taxpayers who are attracted into highly-structured avoidance arrangements will be subject to very, very close scrutiny - scrutiny that can create years of uncertainty (and stress) while extensive investigations are undertaken. These packaged schemes will have carried health warnings for those who have chosen to invest. What maybe wasn't fully factored in was the rapid change we are seeing in the tax environment where (perfectly legal) tax avoidance is being 'outlawed' as socially unacceptable.

There is a knock-on effect too on other less aggressive planning, involving the same tax rules, that is tainted by association. Although there may be no perceived abuse, the heightened profile may well open up unwelcome and costly enquiries. Once again sensible tax management will be rewarded, coupled with the safety net of insurance against the cost of handling tax enquiries.

It seems SAF may have his eye on a £25M payday if Wayne is seen to be surplus to requirements next season. If so, he may complete his time at Old Trafford well before HMRC have completed their investigations into his tax savings.

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Some news, views and comments about everything and anything, relevant and irreverent.

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