28 April 2014
BBC’s Panorama programme reports that a “secret deal” has been struck between the HMRC and Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone resulting in him paying £10m in tax instead of around £1.2bn.
In 1995 Mr Ecclestone became the owner of the TV rights to Formula 1 racing, but he moved the asset offshore, transferring control to his wife. She then transferred it to a family trust before selling on the rights for a huge tax-free profit.
The move has been described by the Daily Mirror as “Britain’s biggest ever tax dodge” and barrister and tax expert Jolyon Maugham described it as a "pretty substantial" loss of tax and said: “I'm certainly not aware of anything else remotely approaching that sort of magnitude, in my fairly extensive experience.”
It has been suggested that the Ecclestone family trusts earn about £10m in interest alone every six weeks.
A PCS HMRC spokesperson said: "The irony is not lost on us or our members who see one of the richest people in Britain dodging his tax on the same day as we are being forced to ballot our members in HMRC on industrial action.
"The department is intent on more privatisation and cutting of our members’ jobs which will lead to less capactiy for collection of taxes. We want to close the widening tax gap whereas this government seems happy to let billionaires get away with tax avoidance.”
Read more about our Tax Justice Campaign
Read more about PCS’s attitude to tax avoidance