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Judge gives HMRC two weeks to get its act together

Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs has two weeks to get its act together to determine whether it’s going to get a court case together against a tax avoider.

Well, an alleged tax avoider anyway. Apparently the taxman has been dragging its feet in whether it’s going to put dishonesty allegations to directors of of Ingenious, a media firm, in order to decide if its film investment initiatives actually are tax avoidance after all. A tribunal judge ordered the deadline after HMRC and Ingenius faced off in a case to suss out whether the film finance schemes of the company were either legitimate investment schemes or illegal tax dodges. Determining whether these schemes were marketed in a dishonest manner to the countless celebrity clients of the firm could be key in determining if Ingenious is actually open to legal action originating from all of its duped investors.

Meanwhile, the tribunal judge, Mr Justice Henderson, ordered the tax authority to give Ingenious any details it has concerning dishonesty allegations that it might be making in two weeks or less. The judge said he had grown tired of HMRC saying again and again that it would not be alleging dishonesty or fraud, yet the taxman had also been giving off the impression of evasiveness or ambivalence on the issue.

Still, in the interest of fairness, Justice Henderson gave the taxman two weeks to finally make up its mind once and for all if it would accuse Ingenious of dishonesty or not. For what it’s worth, I have to agree with the judge’s decision. As much as I’d like to see Ingenious strung up by its heels and beaten with a cricket bat until candy begins to fall out, the law is the law and you can’t say one thing and then do the opposite without expecting the powers that be to grow tired of your ridiculous behaviour.

Would I like to see HMRC accuse Ingenious of dishonesty? Of course! It would mean that any individuals that participated in the scheme, whether they be rich and famous celebrities or just your run of the mill self-employed contractor that trusted his or her accountant that Ingenious was on the up and up. Let’s just hope the taxman gets its ducks all in a row before time runs out!


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