Gary Barlow’s tax avoidance: avoiding the real issue

11 Jul

Gary Barlow’s participation in tax avoidance schemes is again making headlines, along with other figureheads of the music industry, such as George Michael, Katie Melua and the Arctic Monkeys.

They were all allegedly involved in the Liberty scheme, which allows members to purchase the rights to shares in offshore subsidiary companies.  Despite having done nothing illegal, HMRC is reportedly demanding they return the ‘avoided’ monies to the taxman, ahead of a tribunal scheduled for 2015.  According to the government these avoidance schemes cost the economy £5bn a year.  Not only is this inaccurate, but this reported sum is still in bank accounts and remains part of the economy.

To my mind, Gary Barlow and others involved in the above mentioned scheme should not be punished, or even named. As I have said many times before, to be accused of ‘getting away’ with something (tax avoidance) that is entirely within the law, and that can form part of a sensible tax planning strategy is completely absurd.

The fact that the subject of tax avoidance is again setting news agendas highlights fundamental problems within the tax system.  A loss of confidence in the system and the fact that people earning the same income can pay different amounts in tax has caused, and will continue to do so, widespread discontent amongst British taxpayers.

What is needed is a much fairer, less complex system of taxation.  Increasingly high rates leave people feeling they are shouldering too much of the tax burden, particularly when the negative press surrounding high-profile business people and celebrities’ involvement in tax avoidance schemes is wrongly perceived.

Nobody wants to pay more tax than they are legally required to do so, and there are definite incongruities when it comes to the subject of tax avoidance.

Nigel Green

deVere Group

Blog written 11th July



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