Oh dear. UK betting giant, Ladbrokes, has just lost out on £53 million after a tax avoidance case against Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC). According to sources, there was a tribunal which ruled that Ladbrokes undertook a tax avoidance scheme which was promoted by accountancy giant Deloitte and they were able to avoid the taxman while also not making any economic loses. The company has now regrouped and has said to be “considering its options”. Let's hope none of those options are another way of avoiding more tax payments.
There's no doubt that this tax avoidance nightmare will put a dent Ladbroke's reputation and could potentially harm their business. As a giant corporation who is so supposed to represent the industry standard, if not the best the industry has to offer, you'd think they'd want to set a better example — not just to its players but to other, smaller mobile casinos. With their actions, they have demonstrated that it's not only okay to avoid paying tax but that the rest of the economy doesn't matter, so long as they make a profit.
So how did they avoid it? Apparently they found a loophole in the law that allowed two companies under the bookmaker's wing to make arrangements so that circumstances dictate a drop in share value in one, creating a tax loss in the other. Ergo, tax avoidance. This loophole was created, according to HMRC, in 2008. They also claimed that it was closed the same year so only 11 users were found but seven paid their due before the tribunal.
The ruling of the first-tier in the Ladbrokes case now dictates that the company can no longer reclaim £54 million in tax as HMRC have three other cases like this which have to resolve cases worth up to £112 million.
HMRC director general of business tax, Jim Harra, stated: “Avoidance just doesn’t pay – we win around 80 per cent of cases taxpayers choose to litigate and many more concede before litigation.” This means we can rule out the government trying to squeeze money out of big corporations. He further commented: “We will uncover the avoidance schemes and contrived structures designed to minimise tax and we will challenge them.”
Ladbrokes responded to the ruling with: “We believed we had a strong argument in this case. We're now considering our options with regards to a possible appeal.”
We at Droid Slots would like to stress that we do not condone the actions of Ladbrokes. In fact, we believe they were foolish to do this and hope they've learnt their lesson.