Take That star's tax avoidance condemned by Britain's Cameron

Mon May 12, 2014 10:56am EDT
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By Tom Bergin

LONDON (Reuters) - Prime Minister David Cameron on Monday criticized a tax avoidance scheme used by one of Britain's biggest pop stars, but rejected calls to strip Gary Barlow of a state honor.

Barlow, two other members of his group Take That and their manager may have to pay more than 9 million pounds ($15 million) to the state after a judge found an investment scheme they had used was aimed primarily at avoiding tax.

Tax avoidance by other celebrities and by companies such as Starbucks and Amazon have angered the British public, and politicians were quick to condemn Barlow, with two members of parliament (MPs) suggesting he should return his "Order of the British Empire" (OBE), a medal he received for charity work.

Cameron told ITV: “I’m against these aggressive tax avoidance schemes ... Clearly what this scheme was, was wrong.”

But he said he did not support forcing Barlow, who publicly supported the prime minister's Conservative party during the 2010 general election campaign, to return his OBE.

Conservative MP Charlie Elphicke and Margaret Hodge, an MP with the opposition Labour party, told the Times newspaper it was questionable whether Barlow should retain the honor.

A spokesman for the band members declined comment. Their manager, Jonathan Wild, who invested in the same investment scheme, did not respond to requests for comment. Previously, representatives for the four said they paid "significant tax".

A judge said in a ruling published on Monday that members of dozens of partnerships were not entitled to use losses they incurred on investments in music rights and intellectual property to offset their tax bills because the primary intention of the partnership structures was to avoid tax rather than make a profit.   Continued...

Singer Gary Barlow performs at a fund-raising concert in front of royalty at the Royal Albert Hall in London December 6, 2011. REUTERS/Ben Stansall/POOL