Supreme Court find in favour of HMRC

The Supreme Court has today found in favour of HMRC in handing down their decision in the Glasgow Rangers ‘Big Case’. The case related to the use of Employee Benefit Trusts (EBT’s) under which more than £47m was paid to players, managers and directors of the Club in the form of tax-free loans.

HMRC argued that the payments made under these arrangements were earnings and were therefore taxable and, despite two tribunal decisions finding in Glasgow Rangers’ favour, their view was upheld by the Court of Session’s decision in favour of HMRC after an appeal in 2015. Leave was given for the Liquidators of the Club to appeal this decision to the Supreme Court and their ruling in the matter has significant implications following the unanimous dismissal of the appeal.

The outcome provides HMRC with a strong position to seek to recoup tax from thousands of other companies that have operated similar schemes. In addition this decision may similarly assist HMRC in their recovery of income tax and national insurance contributions from the recipients of such loan arrangements. The judge’s ruling that ‘the sums paid to the trustee of the Principal Trust for a footballer constituted the footballer’s earnings’ and that the mechanics of the scheme ‘does not alter the nature of the payments’ clarifies that income tax and national insurance contributions should have been deducted. The employer is therefore liable to do so.

Quantuma anticipate that HMRC will now issue “follower notices” to many companies demanding payment. In addition the decision will strengthen their position in relation to a number of existing Judical Reviews involving similar schemes and arrangements.

For those companies, and individuals, who have participated in such structures and may be affected by this we would recommend taking early advice to consider the implications and the options that may be available. Please contact us for a confidential, no obligation discussion.


Quantuma is regulated by the FCA and is a well-respected firm offering professional advisory services throughout the UK. We assist both individuals and companies in time of financial uncertainty. As trusted professional advisors we are used to helping clients in stressful situations.  We pride ourselves on delivering constructive solutions and our clients appreciate our honesty, transparency and plain talking.