Ladbrokes has deliberately avoided £54 million in corporation tax according to a first-tier tribunal by HM Revenue & Customs.
Ladbrokes was accused by the DCMS of breaking anti-avoidance rules by using a scheme in 2008 that exploited a loophole, which was later closed. Using the scheme, two companies owned by Ladbroke International and Travel Document Service entered into specially designed tax avoiding arrangements.The HMRC has stated that the Ladbrokes artificially created a fall in the value of shares in one of their companies to create a loss for tax purposes. In reality, the group had suffered no economic losses.The tribunal agreed with HMRC’s claim that the rules prevented Ladbrokes from accomplishing the tax advantage they were after.
Ladbrokes also admitted that they had made arrangements to avoid tax but said that anti-avoidance rules didn’t catch them. “We believed we had a strong argument in this case,” a spokesperson for Ladbrokes told eGaming Review this afternoon. “We’re now considering our options with regards to a possible appeal.”HMRC director general of business tax, Jim Harra has warned other firms who may take a similar route to Ladbrokes.“Avoidance just doesn’t pay – we win around 80% of cases taxpayers choose to litigate and many more concede before litigation,” Harra said.“We will uncover the avoidance schemes and contrived structures designed to minimise tax and we will challenge them.”