Sunday, 18 May 2014

Top Irish soccer stars linked to tax-plan scandal

15 November 2011; Republic of Ireland's Stephen Hunt, left, and Kevin Doyle, celebrate in the team dressing room after the game. UEFA EURO2012 Qualifying Play-off 2nd leg, Republic of Ireland v Estonia, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

Irish premiership footballers Kevin Doyle and Stephen Hunt have emerged as investors in a tax shelter scheme that was part of Icebreaker, the controversial setup used by top sports and music stars to avoid millions in tax, the Sunday Independent can reveal.

The £36m (€44.2m) Icebreaker scheme, where Take That singerGary Barlow and his bandmates were among those investing, was described by a British court as set up to reduce their tax bill.
Former England football manager Terry Venables and Olympic athleteColin Jackson were also directors of Icebreaker partner investments.
AIB film investment executive Kieran O'Driscoll is also listed as director of one of the Icebreaker schemes.
While both men confirmed when contacted that their tax affairs were in order and up to date, both Doyleand Hunt, along with Venables are directors of Starbrooke, one of dozens of Icebreaker investment vehicles described by the British courts as tax avoidance schemes.
Starbrooke invested £6.9m in a book about Barcelona FC and two music albums, but generated just £1,937, (€2,377) according to court documents.
Last week a judge ruled that Icebreaker Management had helped Barlow and Take That bandmates avoid paying millions in tax.
The Icebreaker schemes invested in music and film projects, availing of tax reliefs intended to help creative industries. Losses could be used by members to offset against their tax liabilities.
Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs is expected to demand repayment of tax reliefs from Icebreaker.
In a British court case taken by the British tax authorities, where Starbrooke was among the Icebreaker partners' schemes named in the case, the judge said: "The Icebreaker scheme is, and was known and understood by all concerned to be, a tax avoidance scheme."
The partnerships would make deals over intellectual property rights but the judge found this mechanism was set up in a way that losses were inevitable.
British Revenue told the Sunday Independent it didn't comment on individuals but said of Icebreaker: "The scheme generates income tax losses for wealthy individuals who 'invest' funds in Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs).
"Up to 80 per cent of the amounts 'invested' are borrowed from banks and returned to the same banks shortly afterwards. The only significant return for the partners is their tax relief, which is considerably greater than their actual cash contribution.

Irish Independent

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