Hundreds of bankers, celebrities and businessmen have claimed they face bankruptcy after the taxman demanded they repay up to 20 times the amount invested in an avoidance scheme.
The former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson and former England managers Sven-Göran Eriksson and Glen Hoddle are among 780 investors who injected £2.2 billion into film investment schemes, The Times has reported.
Revenue & Customs told tax advisers on Wednesday that it would issue payment demands for tax far in excess of the sums invested.
For example, an investor placing £200,000 in one scheme is expected to face a tax bill of between £2 million and £4 million.
Through a complex process involving buying and renting back Hollywood blockbusters to film studios, Eclipse made it possible to protect billion of pounds of income from the tax system.
In April, the Supreme Court confirmed that Eclipse 35, one of the biggest partnerships, was a tax avoidance scheme.
The tax authorities used that judgment to issue demands for investors in the other 38 similar partnerships.
“I think there will be people potentially jumping off bridges,” said Nick Wood, an adviser representing hundreds of investors in the Eclipse scheme.
“My expectation is, out of the 780 people involved, I’d think it highly likely that up to 600-700 would go bankrupt.
“At least 70 per cent would be forced into bankruptcy.”
Demands are expected to be sent out by HMRC within two months. Once received, members have 90 days to pay.
Eclipse is expected to seek a judicial review of the decision.
The named investors declined to comment.
An HMRC spokesman said: “The majority of schemes simply don’t work.”