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Smell the Fear

Tax Abuser Of The Week

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Top Premiership clubs have fallen victim to a recent court ruling that enables the government to stop employee benefit trusts (EBTs), schemes that allowed clubs to cut their tax bills on bonus payments.

EBTs are rumoured to have become an integral part of footballers' pay packages in the UK, and their removal is likely to add to the financial pressures on some clubs. Arsenal has reportedly been hit with a back-tax bill of £11m, giving rise to fears that it may have to cut future wages, and fuelling speculation that Thierry Henry, the club's French striker, may quit England for Barcelona.

City traders

Like footballers, top bankers and brokers often receive their multi-million-pound bonuses in the form of shares in EBTs, offshore entities that pay out cash as dividends, which are taxed at a lower rate than a conventional bonus. EBTs are not the only form of City reward now under attack. The government took action this month to stop banks paying employees in ways that reduce their VAT bill; past examples include paying star employees in tax-efficient gold bars or fine wine. Revenue officials hope these and other measures will reap an extra £600m a year.


HM Revenue and Customs recently won a court battle with implications for some 70 high street retailers accused of wrongly cutting their VAT bills by channelling a small percentage of customer payments through card-handling subsidiaries. They may be liable for more than £500m after the Court of Appeal found in the taxman's favour in the so-called 'Debenhams' case' (named after one of the retailers involved). Meanwhile, the government has effectively brought down the curtain on internet retailers who were avoiding VAT by selling products to online customers via subsidiaries in the Channel Islands.


Rupert Murdoch


And a cast of thousands

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  • 302 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?

      • down 5% +
      • down 2.5%
      • Even
      • up 2.5%
      • up 5%

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