Eversheds has commented on news concerning the tax affairs of Bernie Ecclestone’s family. Ben Jones, tax expert at the law firm, said proper settlement procedures are key to so-called sweetheart taxation deals.
He said: ‘This is not the first time HMRC has settled high-value tax disputes for a significantly lower amount than the tax at stake. HMRC has been criticised and investigated in the last couple of years over a number of so-called “sweetheart” deals with taxpayers. However, settlement is an important part of litigation strategy, particularly in relation to taxation where the underlying issues can be very complex and for organisations with limited resources such as HMRC.
‘The key issue is to ensure that settlement and the amount of a settlement payment is correct in the circumstances. This has been at the heart of the previous criticisms made of HMRC and this new revelation will no doubt raise similar criticisms. HMRC’s settlement strategy has been reviewed and strengthened in light of these recent issues but it is worth noting that the settlement with the Ecclestone family pre-dates this reform. In light of these revelations, HMRC will want to be confident of the settlement it made — the recent judicial review of a previous HMRC settlement by the tax action group UK Uncut demonstrates that HMRC can be called upon to justify these decisions.’