Celebrities Among Hundreds Who ‘Avoided Tax’

A number of top celebrities have been accused of hiding their money in an aggressive tax avoidance scheme.

George Michael, Sir Michael Caine and Katie Melua all invested in the Liberty tax strategy, according to a report in The Times newspaper.

The scheme, which is legal and ran between 2005 and 2009, worked by making huge artificial “losses” offshore, which members could then use to avoid paying tax on other income.

It meant that for every 1 earned, investors had to pay only7pin tax instead of 40p.

To do that, they had to pay 70,000 in fees to Mercury Tax Strategies, the company which ran the scheme.

Prime Minister David Cameron has called similar schemes “morally wrong”.

A number of other celebrities have been identified as having used tax avoidance schemes in the past, including Gary Barlow, who used another scheme set up by Icebreaker Management, and Jimmy Carr, who was said to have channelled cash through Jersey-based K2.

A total of 1,600 people are said to have tried to shelter a total of 1.2bn in Liberty.

Top businessmen, criminals, celebrities, QCs, NHS doctors, party donors and a judge were among those who used the scheme, according to The Times.

The newspaper said Michael sought to shelter 6.2m he earned from record and tour sales.

It said the singer told the Big Issue in 1996 he would be happy paying 50% to 60% tax under a Labour government.

The singer’s spokesman said his “busy schedule” meant he could not answer questions at present.

The report also claimedMelua, a Georgian-born singer who took British citizenship in 2005, used the scheme to shelter 850,000 in 2008.

Two years later, she was awarded Christian Aid’s Tax Superhero Award after stating in public she paid “nearly half of what comes to me in tax”.

Lawyers for the singer told The Times she had invested in Liberty after it was suggested by her accountants but had since paid the tax she would have owed to HMRC.

Sir Michael, who is accused of sheltering 600,000, made “no comment”, while four members of the Arctic Monkeys, who are each said to have sheltered between 557,000 and 1.1m, also declined to speak.

Although the scheme was legal, The Times said new rules due to be brought in this month mean Liberty members could have to pay back millions.

When it emerged comedian Carr had used a tax avoidance scheme, Mr Cameron said: “There is nothing wrong with people planning their tax affairs to invest in their pension and plan for their retirement – that sort of tax management is fine.

“But some of these schemes we have seen are, quite frankly, morally wrong.”

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Source: orange.co.uk
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