Artist News Legal Top Stories

Michael, Melua and Monkeys linked to tax avoidance scheme

By | Published on Wednesday 9 July 2014

George Michael

George Michael, Katie Melua and the God-darn Arctic Monkeys have all been linked to the latest tax avoidance scheme to be exposed by The Times. The paper has got its hands on a secret list of people who apparently invested in a tax dodge programme called Liberty between 2005 and 2009.

Although legal, the Inland Revenue has been investigating the investment scheme, which generates huge ‘artificial losses’ offshore enabling investors to avoid tax on other income, for nearly a decade, and hopes to block the initiative in court next year. Though, thanks to new rules being introducing this week, those who benefited from the scheme may have to pay previously avoided taxes upfront, pending the outcome of any future court hearing.

As with the various tax dodge stories that have circulated in recent years, most starting with The Times, while celebrity tax avoiders generally haven’t broken any laws, there’s the embarrassment of wealthy stars being seen to avoid paying their fair share into the taxation system. Especially if they are known to have left-leaning politics, or regularly take part in charity appeals, calling on the masses to help support the poor and needy while stashing their own cash offshore out of the reach of the welfare state.

Acclaimed tax avoider and occasional dirge singer Gary Barlow is also linked to the Liberty scheme, while non-music c’lebs said to have invested include Michael Caine and Anne Robinson. Most of those who benefited from the tax dodge have so far declined to comment, though Melua’s people say the singer has already paid back avoided tax.

The Times points out that the singer was nominated for Christian Aid’s Tax Superhero Award in 2010 after telling reporters she paid “nearly half of what comes to me in taxes”. The Georgia-born singer also told a journalist that she was happy paying taxes in the UK because she had “seen what it is like living in a country where people don’t pay tax and have poor services in terms of health and education”.

But Melua’s legal reps say that while she had indeed invested in Liberty at the recommendation of her accountants, she subsequently paid the sheltered tax to HMRC, so hadn’t actually avoided any payments to the taxman.