David Beckham to Centrica boss Sam Laidlaw: the millionaires who could be HMRC's next targets

From Craig David to Ant & Dec and Davina McCall. It's as if all your school disco dreams almost came true...

by Rachel Savage
Last Updated: 09 Jul 2014

It’s like a bizarre episode of The Big Reunion, except with an aged fantasy football team, a smattering of washed-up popstars and a handful of TV presenters. The line-up of random celebrities, from Wayne Rooney and David and Victoria Beckham to Geri Halliwell and Jeremy Paxman, is not some pie-in-the-sky reality TV show, though, but investors who could be forced to hand over hundreds of millions of pounds to HMRC.

Investmnent company Ingenious Media, which has funded blockbuster films including Avatar and Life of Pi, has written to 1,300 past and present investors to warn them the taxman could hit them with a bill totaling £520m, even though a legal battle over taxes is far from over.

Investors range from popstars Craig David and Peter Gabriel to ex-England cricketers Nasser Hussain and Michael Vaughan, business bosses like Centrica chief exec Sam Laidlaw and City big-dogs such as former London Stock Exchange chief Dame Clara Furse and ex-boss of UK Financial Investments (the government body responsible for managing taxpayers’ stakes in Lloyds and RBS) Robin Budenberg, according to Companies House data.

For those of you following football around the turn of the millennium, there is also a motley crew of former ball pushers, including Emile Heskey, Martin Keown, Marcus Bent and Gary McAllister.

Ingenious investors were directors of partnerships that initially made losses of £1.3bn, when the costs of films they were invested in were written down. Those losses could be offset against other income, meaning less tax. The government then blocked film tax relief in 2007, as the amount being claimed spiraled to £650m.

The gaggle of celebrities and business people can choose to settle with HMRC or fight the punitive clawbacks in the courts. Ingenious said it had been trying to get the matter resolved for years, accusing HMRC of using ‘stalling tactics’.

It claimed films it had financed ‘have generated more than £1bn of taxable revenue for the UK Treasury, with a further £1 billion of taxable revenue expected over the life of the films’.

Tbh, MT would just like to see the assorted collection of investors get together to fight HMRC – it would definitely be better than the actual The Big Reunion.

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