By Martin Kelly
A tribunal has ruled that the use of a controversial payment system by the old Rangers FC to pay employees, did not contravene tax rules.
In a 2-1 majority verdict the tribunal has ruled that EBTs used by the club were in fact loans and were not liable for tax.
The long awaited ruling means that the club will not now have to pay £millions HMRC claims it was due in unpaid tax bills.
In a statement announcing the verdict, the tribunal said: “This was a lengthy appeal, heard over 29 days and set down over an extended period.
“There was extensive reference to documentary productions and relevant case-law. At a late stage in its deliberations it became clear that the tribunal would be unable to issue a unanimous decision. It is conscious of and regrets the consequent delay.
“The majority view reflects the argument that the controversial monies received by the employees were not paid to them as their absolute entitlement.
“The legal effect of the trust/loan structure is sufficient to preclude this. Thus the payments are loans, not earnings, and so are recoverable from the employee or his estate.”
HMRC are reported to be considering an appeal.
The ruling, whilst a relief for the club, leaves the possibility that players and former officials at the club who benefited from the controversial loans will now be pursued for return of the money. The club’s former owner, Sir David Murray is reported to have been paid around £6 million using the EBT system.
Murray sold the club to Craig Whyte for £1, in a move criticised by many. Under Whyte the club went into administration and then liquidation.
Administrators Duff and Phelps then negotiated a sale of the ibrox club’s assets to a consortium led by Charles Green for £5.5m.
The new club are currently playing in the Scottish League Division Three after liquidation saw the club having to re-apply for league membership.