A number of big-name celebrities including David Beckham, Gary Lineker and Ant & Dec are among those who have lost a legal big to overturn a tax bill of £700 million.

They are among more than 1,000 people who invested in the Ingenious film financing scheme in order to gain tax relief. The scheme, which helped produce massive movies such as Avatar, qualified for tax breaks designed to boost the British film industry.

However, HMRC contended that the scheme relied on artificial losses from the movies concerned, and that meant that Ingenious was not a legitimate investment opportunity but a tax avoidance vehicle.

David BeckhamDavid Beckham was one of the 1,400 participants in the Ingenious scheme

A tax tribunal ruled on Wednesday (May 31st) that it was upholding a 2016 ruling that the avoided tax was to be recouped, stating that the incentives were “not allowable deductions”.

The practical upshot is that 1,400 participants, including celebs including Bob Geldof, Wayne Rooney and Geordie presenters Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly now face tax bills of various sizes. £420 million was avoided, but interest on that amount makes the total in excess of £700 million.

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Those who used the Ingenious scheme had to invest at least £100,000 and were promised significant relief on any losses incurred, but many have subsequently claimed they were poorly advised and were unaware of the implications.

HMRC, which won a similar case against a scheme known as Icebreaker in the recent past, said through a statement: “We are pleased that the tribunal has agreed with us that the vast majority of what was claimed in tax relief by Ingenious investors was simply not due.”

However, a spokesperson for Ingenious said it would be looking to appeal against the ruling: “It is wholly unsatisfactory that the tribunal reached this decision with 'misgivings and reluctance’.”

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