Category Archives: HMRC v Rangers

Government Probes Rangers HMRC e-Petition – by Ecojon

Most readers will be well aware of the e-petition lodged by Rangers supporters condemning the recent HMRC investigation into the club’s income tax affairs and alleged information leaks from it.

The petition, not unexpectedly, has been well-supported by Rangers supporters with endorsement by Chris Graham and has jumped into 10th spot in the e-petition league with 31,952 signatures since launch on 22 November.

However, it is understood, that the Government Digital Service which operates the e-petition website will investigate the number of signatures on the Rangers e-petition emanating from single-use e-mail websites. If these represent a significant number of the total signatures then further action will be taken to retain the parliamentary integrity of the process.

So, what does it all mean?  Basically Rangers Media has been drumming up support for the e-petition which is to be expected and there is absolutely nothing wrong in that.

But at the head of the Rangers e-petition pinned thread it carries the following info: Continue reading

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Filed under Guest Posts, HMRC v Rangers, Politics, Rangers

Charles Green on How the Big Tax Case Harmed Rangers – and Why He is Wrong

Mr Green, who seemed unusually quiet for a couple of days, but was no doubt involved meeting fund managers and investors for his share issue and compiling the Share Prospectus which he told Rangers fans would be out by the middle of November, has spoken out on the official Rangers website about the Big Tax Case outcome.

You can find the whole piece here.

As the article is written on the official site by Lindsay Herron it is safe to assume, I suggest, that the commentary and narrative around Mr Green’s quotes can also be taken as the “Rangers position”.

My comments on parts of the piece are in bold below the relevant section. It is fair to say that I do not think Mr Green is correct in much of what he had to say (although I am sure that would not concern him one iota).

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CHARLES GREEN has expressed his anger and dismay at the timing of the verdict of the First Tier Tax Tribunal as it has massively affected the current status of Rangers.

Despite a concerted campaign from certain quarters, which was often hateful, that decided that Rangers were guilty of “cheating” it has been proved that is not the case. Continue reading

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Filed under Charles Green, HMRC v Rangers, Rangers

The dangers of blogging and the crazy world of The Old Firm – Guest Post by Adam

Before I start, I would like to take the opportunity to say writing is not my thing.  Give me 50 numbers and ask me to calculate odds, formulas or percentages and I’m up for it, but writing stories or whatever….No chance.

I was asked by Paul to write a guest blog and initially declined but I felt if I didn’t then my blog foe ecojon would chase me and chase me like something from a Duncan Norvelle sketch until I agreed.

So here we go.  It won’t be pretty.

There is no doubt the sensation that is Twitter and Blogging has opened up a new medium for writers to demonstrate their competence and put their work out to the new breed of news hungry citizens to digest in a feeding frenzy.

For the past 2 years, it has been a growing sensation, particularly in Old Firm land, where more and more bloggers have taken to the stage as the months went by.  20-11-12 however was an important turning point in the life of some of these blogs.

20-11-12 was the day the crescendo should have reached its triumphant conclusion.  Rangers should have been found “guilty” (though it never was a guilty or not guilty case) of avoiding tax illegally.  But instead of the ceremonial trombones and bugles playing their merry tunes to the dancing East End of the city, the instrument mouthpieces blocked up, the tunes were flat and the dancers were left looking for a new tune to dance to.
As a numbers man, I’m always interested in statistics so with that in mind, I thought I would look at some interesting statistics on twitter, which always seemed a hotbed of action on all things “Rangers Are Guilty” prior to 20-11-12.

The main hotbed of activity and “discussion” were from the 2 leading writers on the Big tax case, Rangerstaxcase and Phil MacGiollaBhain.  True to form, between them in November, they had racked up 1023 tweets up to and including the day the result was announced (51.2 tweets per day)

In the immediate aftermath of the tax case, following a false start of claiming victory by rangerstaxcase, the tweets have dropped to 82 in the last week (11.7 tweets per day)

A 77% drop in interaction.

However, that only tells a fraction of the story as you would struggle to get onto a second hand if you only count the number of tweets about the tax case in 7 days. The twitters are not tweeting anymore.

Strangely though, the avid viewers of these bloggers and Twitterers (is that a word?) are still working overtime.  The good ship SS Rangers Are Guilty has taken a few holes on board and the “workers” are doing their best to throw the water back in the bad blue sea by proclaiming all sorts of unfounded notions, however it appears as though the Captains have deserted them and are no longer available to steer the ship back to placid green seas.  There is an old proverb that would aptly describe this but I don’t want to be accused of comparing anyone to rodents by using such a tried and tested phrase.

The disappearance or the lack of any fight may be down to a little panic. 

And, this, is where blogging is dangerous, to bring me back to my point.

It is almost daily now we hear of someone getting in trouble due to things said on twitter, Facebook or in Scotland, football forums.  The authorities are taking action more than ever before on these things, so it’s not without its merits that perhaps RTC and Phil Mac have gone quiet. The danger has never been greater and all people should be urged caution before posting online nowadays.

It should be said, for clarity, I was a contributor to RangersTaxCase for a number of months back in 2011 and RTC was nothing other than a supporter of my contribution to the blog which I am thankful for.  In some ways, I am glad he (or she, just in case) has packed everything up and gone on the QT.  I am extremely grateful for some of the information shared on Craig Whyte and I believe that RTC was one of the catalysts for bringing Craig Whyte’s deeds into the public eye, which for me was a good thing.  When added to existing knowledge of my own, it strengthened my opinion on Whyte and also showed I could share the same view and opinion as Celtic fans (on the blog), yet somehow weirdly still be on the end of their ire for reasons only known to them (though I have a theory), whilst hearing some Rangers fans were accusing me of being RTC in disguise. 

Only in Old Firm world would that be the case.

In relation to the Big Tax Case, I was often chastised for beating a particular drum.  There appears to be a sudden increase in the standards of Scottish morality. 

Every new RTC blog would have hundreds of opinions on how morally wrong the whole scheme was and how Rangers and David Murray should pay the price for being “morally reprehensible.” Notwithstanding reminding people they shouldn’t count their chickens before they hatch in relation to any findings, I also often asked, only to be shouted down, where people’s morality ended. 

Was it only if the company had an R, F and C in their name? 

Was it only if the company traded out of Govan?

Or was it in all cases for all men, woman, small or large business in the UK?

I just realised the answer today(see previous blog) as I envisioned the majority of contributors from the RTC blog having a coffee in Starbucks , using their I-phones on the Vodafone network to look up Amazon on Google in the search to buy a book about a team they don’t even support.

Another good example of what being part of the Old Firm world is about in my opinion.

Before I bow out, I would like to test one final phenomenon of Old Firm world.  I call it the “tell enough people made up nonsense and let it become fact” syndrome and I would like to explore this through the blog to try and get an answer to a question that is still unanswered.

I have now heard this on radio as fact.  I have read it on Facebook as fact.  I have read it on Twitter as fact.  On here as fact.  And I have now had 5 emails in the last 24 hours about it from 5 separate associates or friends.

Since 20-11-12, Celtic fans have said Rangers are “still guilty” because they accepted on 35 occasions, the EBT’s were wrong and that Tax was due.  35 was the first number but I have also read/heard 30.  And 31.  And 33. Also 34.

My reading of the entire document is that Rangers conceded, on 5 particular players, they could understand why tax may be due.  Reading between the lines and using the language of the judgement, it appears the administration on these 5 cases was not as it should be, hence the acceptance.  There doesn’t appear to be anything more than that, and the judges seem relaxed in the view that these can be agreed post decision by HMRC and Murray Group.

So after slating everything above, generally giving me a pasting about poor grammar, commas in the wrong place etc, can someone please have the decency to tell where the information came from.  Or can anyone who has previously claimed it simply say “We got it wrong.  It’s nonsense”

Thanks for reading.  The pleasure, I have no doubt, was only mine.

Posted by Adam

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Filed under Blogging, Guest Posts, HMRC v Rangers

HMRC and the Big Tax Case – Master Plan or Bungle – Guest Post by Raycharlez

This post might be familiar to some, as it was posted as a comment earlier this morning. I thought it worth putting up as a piece on its own.

In context, it was replying to Ecojon’s suggestion of an HMRC master plan in relation to the Big Tax Case.

And now I will pass you over to Raycharlez for his thoughts, with my thanks to him, and I will be back at the end with a quick comment.

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Ecojon,

I would love to fully buy into your writings about HMRC’s legal strategy.

It conjures up a cogent picture of a coherent organisation making long-term legalistic chess moves in a game they are close to mastering.

But I find myself agreeing with Adam’s “hunch” on this one, although for my own non-legalistic reasons.

(Hi Adam, by the way. Nice to see you back. I vividly remember you from RTC and welcomed you back after your last sabbatical. I recall asking you the last time where you had been and you were courteous enough to reply with a voluminous and persuasive explanation. It is indeed serendipitous that another gap in your work commitments and projects has allowed you to return again so soon after the tax ruling. However, I am disappointed, but not surprised, that you are raising the “leak” issue so aggresively. If it was a criminal trial and the material leaked was sub judice then I would be with you 100 per cent. As it is, I believe that from a de facto perspective the information released by RTC was in the public interest and was akin to the leaked information relating to MPs expenses that found their way into the Telegraph.)

But to get back to my point,.

Ecojon, please remember I am a simple layman.

As such I view HMRC as a typical Westminster operation.

In other words it’s a bit of an anachronistic shambles.

I actually gave up reading Private Eye as it only filled me with despair at the way the nation state I live in is administered and governed.

My perception is that while HMRC may be good at going after small-time companies and taxpayers, who can’t afford accountants or lawyers, they struggle against the top dogs who employ legal experts at the pinnacle of their profession.

I realise HMRC has won important cases such as Sempra but is it possible to estimate HMRC’s rough batting average at the high-end scale when they are taking on major corporations in complex tax cases?

At the moment I feel compelled to use Adam’s Occam’s razor approach.

As such, it appears HMRC simply made a mess of a slam-dunk case.

I have read many stories over the years about under-pressure prosecutors failing to convict people in criminal courts because they failed to fill in a legal form correctly or got their dates mixed up.

Such things will happen even in modern constitutional systems that are administratively well-run and well-funded.

But this is Britain. A cobbled-together amalgam that layers modernity on top of an incoherent and somewhat odd feudalistic legal framework.

A country where our fellow citizens don false wigs, olde worlde gowns and silk clobber before addressing red-robed punters as “your Lordship”.

This sort of thing strikes me as strange behaviour in the 21st century and only reinforces my belief that the legal profession as presently constituted is a major barrier that would have to be overcome in order for a modern and legalistically cohesive state to be created, whether that be in the UK as a whole or Scotland in isolation.

It is not perhaps a bit ironic that many people on this blog – who I assume will normally be quick to recognise and lambast the intrinsic ineptitude of government departments in our antiquarian state – have suddenly become convinced that HMRC are tactical legal whiz kids waiting to spring a well-laid trap on Mr Black.

Those cool cats at HMRC must be using Ali’s old rope-a-dope trick!

Is it not actually better to assume they are more like the blundering prehistoric blazers who inhabit the SFA – a 19th century organisation no longer fit for purpose in the modern world.

The outmoded SFA, the legal establishment and Her Majesty’s revenue service all appear to belong in a bygone era to me.

Sorry for the pessimism Ecojon but, as they say in Dragons Den, that’s where I’m at and I’m not buying in to your analysis*.

(*I reserve the right to buy in at a later date if you are right)

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Thanks Ray!

Readers of the FTT decision would have noted the reference to Mr Thomson for HMRC being out-numbered 4-1 by the MIH legal reps.

Was HMRC’s decision a recognition of Mr Thomson’s undoubted skills?
Was it proof of HMRC thinking it had an open goal?

Was it an economic step? In which case “penny wise, pound foolish”?

Posted by Raycharlez, with added meanderings by Paul McConville

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Filed under Guest Posts, HMRC v Rangers, Politics

Guess Who the Record Condemned as “Morally Bankrupt” with “Indefensible Greed” for Using “Sleight of Hand” to Avoid Taxes?

Whilst the First Tier Tribunal found, by a majority, in favour of MIH in the EBT case, the judges on all sides were of a mind that the scheme used was an artificial one for the purposes of reducing tax bills. The majority found that the form triumphed over the substance, whilst the dissenting judge favoured the reverse. These issues will be dealt with again, should HMRC decide to appeal.

As the majority commented:-

“The terms of the Appellants’ internal memos and communications anent the operation of the Remuneration Trust were highlighted by Mr Thomson. This had been a major feature emerging from HM Inspectors’ investigation. While these are suggestive of “aggressive” tax avoidance, we are conscious that they were composed by lay persons without specialist legal experience.”

And

“We are unable to make further Findings-in-Fact in support of there being an orchestrated scheme extending to the payment in effect of wages or salary absolutely and unreservedly to the employees involved”.

Dr Poon, in the minority said:-

“I disagree that the legal form of a transaction with its corollary legal effect is conclusive as a dictum in applying the Ramsay principle, and make extra Findings-in-Law regarding Ramsay and its application to the present case.

And

“I am guided by ‘the ultimate question’: ‘whether the relevant statutory provisions, construed purposively, were intended to apply to the transaction, viewed realistically’. To that end, the facts that inform me regarding the realistic nature of the transaction are more widely characterised than the legal form of the transaction.

And

“Secondly, in following the edicts for any trier of fact laid down in Heaton v Bell [1970] AC728 at 748B [Lord Morris], ‘The quest must be to find the realities of the arrangements that were agreed,’ and at 760E [Lord Upjohn], ‘having ascertained the real nature of the transaction, you cannot … disguise it by using camouflaged clothing’, I have highlighted areas of conflicting evidence and drawn my conclusions as to what I regard as the real nature of the transaction.”

It is fair to say that there was no attempt, as far as I am aware, by MIH to suggest that this was a scheme devised for anything other than tax purposes. Continue reading

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Filed under Daily Record, HMRC v Rangers