Tuesday, 1 December 2015

The accountant, the tax avoidance scheme and the magazine

I have a little yarn that might cheer up freelance readers struggling to get their paperwork ready for January's tax returns.

The tale involves Deloitte, the accountancy giant, a multi-million pound tax avoidance scheme known as Icebreaker and an article in Tax Advisor Magazine.

Back in May last year, Bill Dodwell, Deloitte's own head of tax policy wrote, with what appears to be  a hint of glee, about how the Icebreaker investment scheme had been turned over in the courts.

"Sometimes tribunal judgements hedge around the issues in tax schemes," wrote Doddy. He went on to say: "Not this one: we should congratulate the tribunal on the abundance of insight and plain speaking which makes it quite clear there cannot possible be an appeal."

And in case you want to read the whole thing, here is a link:


Not content with his self appointed role as the Appeal Judge to the Icebreaker case, Doddy went to state: "hopefully, all 1000 or so members will settle up quickly."

Take that boys - and I really do mean Take That as according to widespread reports Gary Barlow was one of the investors, or members, in the Icebreaker scheme.

To be fair, Doddy did have a point. Even the Government press release on the ruling, usually a model of mild-mannered language, said Icebreaker had been "crushed" adding: "we will not tolerate abuse of the system by people trying to dodge their tax obligations." Here is the link to the release:


Ouch! That's painful by any definition, but then so was the stinger suffered by Doddy.

Within days of publishing his article Doddy was given the unfortunate news by one of his colleagues that, er, it was Deloitte's legal department that defended the Icebreaker scheme through the courts, trousering £4 million in the process (however, people close to Deloitte say in fact the firm only earnt £1.4 million from defending the Icebreaker scheme).

No surprises, then, that Doddy's employer Deloitte is now heading to court itself. The Financial Times reported last year how Icebreaker was threatening to sue Deloitte but Betaville has now seen the "Particulars of Claim" from Icebreaker. So, the row really is hotting up.

Indeed, the claim - which was issued a couple of months ago - alleges "unlawful conduct", "breaches of fiduciary duty" and "negligence" against Deloitte for publishing the article. And Doddy has been seriously reprimanded for the affair, claims Icebreaker.

What does everybody involved have to say on the matter?

When I contacted Caroline Hamilton, the founder of Icebreaker, she said: "We don't have anything to say at the moment". 

And a spokesperson for Deloitte said:

“Deloitte was not involved in the creation or implementation of the scheme.  The article was an analysis of the publicly available Tribunal Judgement, but we accept that the final paragraph was inappropriate and regret its publication.  However, we do not believe it would have impacted any possible appeal or any negotiations with HMRC.”

As for Doddy? Well, a quick look at his page on Tax Advisor Magazine reveals that just weeks after the Particulars of Claim was issued Doddy wrote another article titled "Ready for Action".

1 comment:

  1. I never read whole articles but the way you wrote this information is simply amazing and this kept my interest in reading and I enjoyed it.
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