The Supreme Court have dismissed a final appeal by liquidators BDO over Rangers’ use of Employee Benefit Trusts, finally bringing an end to legal proceedings in what became known as the ‘big tax case’.
The ruling was handed down by the court this morning as judges Lord Neuberger, Lady Hale, Lord Reed, Lord Carnwath, Lord Hodge found in favour of HMRC that income tax and national insurance contributions should have been paid on the trusts which Sir David Murray’s group of companies used to pay employees from 2001 to 2009.
HMRC had previously list its initial appeal at a First Tier Tax Tribunal in October 2012, a judgement which was then upheld by an Upper Tier Tribunal in July 2014. HMRC made a third appeal, the the Court of Session, which ruled in their favour in November 2015.
BDO, acting on behalf of creditors in the liquidation of RFC 2012 (former The Rangers Football Club plc) were given leave to make a further appeal to the Supreme Court which heard the case over two days in March this year. Today’s decision is binding on all parties.
The outcome has no material bearing on the current owners of Rangers in the aftermath of the club’s financial collapse in 2012.
The Scottish football authorities are likely to face renewed calls, however, to consider the possibility of stripping honours won by Rangers during the years when EBTs were used.
An independent commission chaired by Lord Nimmo Smith in February 2013 decided the club had gained no competitive advantage when they breached league rules by making undeclared payments to players.