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‘Plebgate’ MP invested in scheme HMRC says avoided tax

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Former government chief whip Andrew Mitchell has invested in a high-profile film financing company considered to be a tax avoidance scheme by HMRC.

Tax collectors say the scheme’s investors can expect to receive big tax bills in the coming months, the BBC reports.

Mitchell is best known for resigning from the government in October 2012 over an argument with some Downing Street policemen – later dubbed “Plebgate” – a chain of events that has left him locked in a series of high profile libel actions.

In the mid-2000s he invested in a vehicle called Ingenious Film Partners 2.

According to its promoters, this was a scheme that encouraged people to invest in British film. But, according to HMRC, it was designed to generate inappropriate amounts of tax relief for its investors.

This week, HMRC listed Ingenious Film Partners 2 as one of 1,200 candidates for “accelerated payment notices”.

Business executives and sport stars – among them David Beckham – also invested in Ingenious, and have been warned they must pay HMRC more than £520m after a government crackdown on tax avoidance schemes.

This is a power that takes effect this week, meaning that investors can be asked to repay all tax that HMRC thinks they should have paid before going to court. Upon receiving the notice, the bill must be settled within 90 days.

Tax enforcement is now a very high political priority, and the coalition has given HMRC more money for enforcement and new powers.

Experts say that schemes that were left alone in previous years – some long-established – are now being caught in the HMRC dragnet.

Other senior establishment figures to invest in the scheme include Lord Waldegrave, the former chief secretary to the Treasury, and Lord Grade, the former chairman of the BBC.

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