The tax tribunal which heard Rangers’ appeal over their bill for the use of Employee Benefit Trusts has delivered a majority verdict which has “allowed the appeal in principle”.
The tribunal stated that the “controversial monies received by the employees were not paid to them as their absolute entitlement”.
Rangers had argued that the payments, thought to be close to £49million, had been loans rather than wages and not subject to tax.
No verdict on any sum that the oldco Rangers were liable for was included in the findings, but Sir David Murray’s company welcomed the verdict as vindication of their stance.
Oldco Rangers had previously stated they could be liable for up to £75million but the tribunal ruled that Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs assessment should be “reduced substantially” with only some payments subject to tax.
“It was conceded that advances in favour of certain players are taxable and liable to NIC (National Insurance Contributions), and 35 we have found that, in certain other limited instances, there may be a similar liability.
“To that extent the assessments should stand. In these circumstances we expect that it is sufficient that we allow the appeal in principle.
“Parties can no doubt settle the sums due for the limited number of cases mentioned without further reference to the tribunal.”
Murray International Holdings, who were majority shareholders of the oldco club until Craig Whyte’s takeover in May 2011, declared in a statement: “We are satisfied that the Tax Tribunal has now published its widely awaited decision and note the contents thereof.
“We are pleased with the judgement which leaves minimal tax liability and overwhelmingly supports the views collectively and consistently held by our advisers, legal counsel and MIH itself.”
The decision does not affect the current football club at Ibrox, which was reconstituted as a new company when the oldco Rangers was consigned to liquidation in June.
MIH also called for an inquiry into the leaking of information surrounding the case.
A website devoted to the case won the Orwell Prize for blogging while a BBC documentary team won a Scottish BAFTA for their investigation into the payments.
The Murray statement continued: “This has been an exceptionally long, difficult and expensive process involving not just the Tax Tribunal but also significant efforts to resolve the matter with senior HMRC officials on a commercially sensible basis for all parties.
“We will therefore review the detailed content of the decision with our advisers and legal counsel to ascertain what action, if any, is now required by MIH.
“While MIH has at all times respected the privacy of the Tax Tribunal proceedings, a substantial quantity of confidential information relating to the case has become available for public consumption stimulating considerable discussion and often ill-informed debate.
“This has been wholly inappropriate and outwith the fundamental principles of natural justice.
“We therefore formally request that the relevant authorities investigate how these sensitive details have been released so widely.
“We have instructed our lawyers to retrospectively review online and printed publications relating to the case to identify whether legal redress is either appropriate or necessary.”
HMRC revealed they were thinking about challenging decision.
A statement from HMRC read: “We are disappointed that we have lost this stage of the court process and we are considering an appeal.”