David Gower with wife Thorunn
The former England captain was left fuming when a tribunal “reluctantly” ruled that HM Revenue and Customs was right to deny him tax breaks on the tens of thousands he invested in film fund Ingenious.
It has landed the 60-year-old batsman with a massive tax bill, alongside fellow investors like football’s David Beckham and Gary Lineker, and TV hosts Ant and Dec.
Also affected are football’s Wayne Rooney, TV’s Jeremy Paxman and Bob Geldof.
If anyone has been immoral and unfair it’s HMRC
In all, celebrities invested £1.6billion in the scheme.
The people behind it used the money to fund Hollywood blockbusters like Avatar, Life Of Pi and Die Hard 4.
But while Ingenious promised them big profits and tax relief, HMRC argued it was simply a way of avoiding tax.
Gower said: “People were accusing the innocent investors of trying to evade responsibilities, which is completely untrue.
Wayne Rooney also invested in the tax avoidance scheme
“If anyone has been immoral and unfair it’s HMRC.”
They completely messed up the way they did it, he added. The Sky Sports commentator also slammed the tax collectors for the “appalling way they dragged their feet” over the case.
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He claimed he was told to back the scheme by a financial adviser, and that HMRC had given it the green light.
But an insider denied it was ever approved, saying the millions the fund claimed in tax relief was “simply not due”.
Commenting on an earlier ruling, HMRC’s Jennie Granger said: “These were some of the biggest films of all time and the schemes involved people claiming far more in tax than they invested in the first place.
Jeremy Paxman was also among the celebrities who invested £1.6bn in the scheme
“We always say that if something is too good to be true, then it probably is.
“In this case the long legal battle will mean that investors face even bigger bills for interest and legal costs.”
Louise Brittain, a bankruptcy specialist at Wilkins Kennedy, has had to deal with dozens of calls from investors.
She said: “A lot are quite well known and wealthy but the tax debt is so massive they wouldn’t be able to pay it.”
Gower has already paid what he owed.
Ingenious said it will be appealing against the decision in an attempt to reclaim the £700million bill handed to its 1,400 investors.
It said: “It is wholly unsatisfactory that the tribunal reached this decision with ‘misgivings and reluctance’.”