Why Gary Barlow has done nothing wrong

Gary Barlow

A leading tax expert has described the furore over Gary Barlow's tax affairs as "misplaced and morphing into a witch hunt".

The Take That frontman, along with band members Mark Owen and Howard Donald, face having to pay back tens of millions of pounds in tax relief after being found to have invested in a tax avoidance scheme.

Along with their manager and as many as 1,000 other investors, they were alleged to have invested in a company that was said to be supporting creative industries. When the company posted massive losses, investors were then able to offset this against their tax bills, reducing the amount they had to pay HMRC.

A tribunal has found the company to have been a tax avoidance scheme and Margaret Hodge, chair of the public accounts committee, has since called for Barlow to be stripped of his OBE.

However, Kevin White, head of financial planning at IFA firm deVere United Kingdom, said: "The judge in this case has declared that the investors involved were part of a tax avoidance scheme.

Not a crime

"Let's be clear: tax avoidance is not a crime, tax avoidance is legal and can form part of a competent financial strategy. On the other hand, tax evasion is illegal and therefore punishable under the law."

As such, White said questions should be asked as to why Barlow and his fellow bandmates are now facing such a big tax bill.

"It is ludicrous to suggest, as it has been, that he [Barlow] was 'getting away with' not paying his taxes. You cannot 'get away with' something that is legal. Mr Barlow and others were attempting to legally mitigate their tax burden."
Rather than vilify the singers, White added it would make more sense to bring about a change in the law.

"Those who object to such schemes, instead of launching a witch-hunt against high profile individuals and/or companies to perhaps push their own agendas, should instead lobby MPs – who are the ones who have the powers to change this country's overly complex and sometimes ambiguous tax laws.
"Perhaps there is a case to modify the rules, but lynch-mobbing in the media a few pop stars is not the appropriate, sensible way to go about it. We need a considered national debate."

What do you think about Take That's tax planning? Share your views in the comment box below or email us at editorial@moneywise.co.uk.

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I think he Garry Barlow and the other 1000 people that have invested in this TAX AVOIDANCE SHCEME SCNEME. as been advised by an expert in such matters. and its them that should be looked into. Lets face its nothing most of would not do if we had the money to invest. and avoid paying SOME TAX
Just foot note about MP making comments they still need to get there snouts out of the trough before they point fingers at aanybody.
The Lamp.

Given the well established and publicised (over many years!) furore about tax avoidance by investing in "loss" making companies, including the public dig at a well known comedian  -  who happens not to be a friend of Hypocrite Cameron  -  it is disineguous of Cameron to try to highlight his friend's (Barlow) self-serving charitable works in order to disguise the latter's unbridled greed. The exceedingly wealthy continue to get rich off the backs of us Plebs who are threatened with £100 fines for missing a deadline on tax returns, even in the event that no tax is owed.
But I fully agree with the suggestion that his tax advisor should be punished as well.  These leaches propose unethical devices for avoiding tax payments and for which they screw their clients for vast proportionate fees devoid of any semblence of integrity.
I'm not too concerned about reclaiming Barlow's OBE.  The whole edifice of awarding such honours is based on corruption, involving politicians and sycophants within the civil service and those surrounding the royal parasites. This idiosyncratic behaviour is peculiarly British and needs to be replaced by a system reflecting meritocracy.
The taxation problem is readily resolved by demanding full tax payments on all profits generated within the UK and, further, making it illegal if the the so-called loss-making devices are transparently designed to avoid tax payments; so watch out Ecclestone, Sir Branson, Sir Phillip Green, Amazon, Starbucks, Russian Oligarchs, footballers etc, etc.,  not forgetting the Royal parasites: you in particular YRH Charles Windsor!
And, by the way, when will taxpayers' money be clawed back from film companies that have made substantial profits based on Government help?  Or in the alternative, when will they have the balls to repeal this absurd concession to a bunch of self-adulating, ego-maniacs?
The law-makers in Government could so easily put a stop to tax avoidance schemes if they had any real desire to stop their friends from  cashing in on slack revenue legislation.  Long live Margaret Hodge, one of the few policians who calls a spade a spade!

Well said - I totally agree. It's about time we starting shaming these tax cheats, including the professionals that devise these scams. And as for the comment "wouldn't we all do it if we had the chance" well I for one wouldn't! In fact it makes it all the more despicable that the people who are swindling the rest of us are extremely rich and are not doing it because they need to put food on the table or keep a roof over their heads. They are doing it because they are greedy. And in Gary Barlow's case, he even has the audacity to show himself off as doing good works, when the people who actually raise the money are the people who he is cheating - the hard working, tax paying public. Take That!

Was this Legal at the time it was done...?
I'm not sure whether this was under the Coalition (after May/ June 2010) ... or ... before ... under Labour...?
That is it now deemed Inappropriate or almost immoral is fairly obvious ... but ... If real losses have been made on this Investment ... Is it reasonable to expect someone to lose money and then pay tax on the original amounts...?
I think it would be better if everyone Calmed Down.... and allowed time to come to the right conclusion on how to proceed.
I have no problem with the law being changed to stop this, If that is what the government believes is the best way forward.

How many of us have ISA's? How many of us claim tax relief on pension contributions? How many of us sacrifice salary for child-care vouchers? The list goes on! These are all tax avoidance schemes which we all subscribe to. We Gift Aid charity donations to claim tax relief. What about the local trademan who makes himself a limited company with his missus as co-director? If Gary Barlow is guilty, then so are the rest fo us! I'm no fan of Gary Barlow. I like some of his music but that's as far as it goes. There are bigger fish to vent our anger on. The politicians who made these rules ane the ones to blame! They screwed it up!

"There are bigger fish to vent our anger on"  This fish is miles bigger than 95% of the population who would weigh in as tiddlers.  I'm more than happy to fry this shark for starters! Anyway, I can't stand his noise when performing.  If he could sing then I might be tempted to start on the next larger size of fish!

The “Squeezed Middle”  bare an outrageously disproportionate proportion of the TAX burden because the beneficiaries of avoidance schemes DON’T pay their fair share!

Gary Barlow has not broken the law, so why the witch hunt?  None of us has an obligation to pay more tax than we need to. I'm mystified why a court should censure him, given that he has done nothing illegal.
If the judge doesn't like the tax laws, he should wait for the Law to be changed.  As it is, Gary Barlow is guilty of nothing.
M Hague-Morgan OBE.

Comment from Scott McKie, via email

As Gary Barlow has often appeared on TV begging for people with FAR less money than him should give money to charity to keep hospices open perhaps he'll put his money where his mouth is & pay to keep the NHS alive !