Senet chief responds after Ladbrokes' £54m tax ruling

Senet chief responds after Ladbrokes' £54m tax ruling

Thursday, December 3, 2015 Totally Gaming
Wanda Goldwag told operators to be mindful of social responsibility values

Wanda Goldwag, the chair of the Senet Group, has told TotallyGaming.com that the gambling industry must be mindful of its reputation after Ladbrokes was blocked from reclaiming more than £50m (€70.8m/$74.7m) of tax, after a tribunal found that an avoidance scheme used in 2008 breached rules.

Ladbrokes was ruled to have used a scheme promoted by leading accountancy firm Deloitte, through which it was able to avoid paying £54m tax while not incurring any real economic losses.

Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) argued that the type of scheme, which exploited a gap in the law that existed in 2008 but was also closed in the same year, had 11 users in total, of which seven settled before reaching tribunal.

In response to the first-tier tribunal ruling, a Ladbrokes spokesperson said: “We believed we had a strong argument in this case. We're now considering our options with regards to a possible appeal.”

Senet was set up by Ladbrokes and other leading gaming companies last year in a bid to improve the industry’s reputation in terms of corporate social responsibility.

Goldwag, who is Senet’s independent standards commissioner, said: “It is in the interests of the whole gambling industry for operators to behave in a way that is regarded as socially responsible, but we cannot comment on individual cases.”

Jim Harra, HMRC director general of business tax, added : “Avoidance just doesn’t pay – we win around 80 per cent of cases taxpayers choose to litigate and many more concede before litigation. We will uncover the avoidance schemes and contrived structures designed to minimise tax and we will challenge them.”

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