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HM Revenue and Customs says it did not miscalculate Rangers tax demand

The tax authority has refuted claims that it miscalculated a demand which was a major factor in the financial collapse of Rangers in 2012.

HM Revenue and Customs issued a blunt response to a report which claimed its “multi-million pound blunder” was being blamed for the oldco club being consigned to liquidation in June 2012.

In a brief statement on its press office Twitter account, HMRC said: “As widely reported today and to clarify: HMRC won against Rangers’ tax avoidance in the Supreme Court, and did not miscalculate anything.”

The report stemmed from a June audit by liquidators BDO, who wiped £26million off the amount claimed by HMRC after challenging the imposition of a £24m penalty for the use of an Employee Benefit Trust (EBT) scheme through which the club paid wages and bonuses which were disguised as loans.

The reduction left the total outstanding to HMRC as £68m and there were claims on Thursday that the figure could drop by a total of £50m. This led to former Rangers chairman John McLelland arguing there would have been more potential buyers for the club had demands been reduced at the time.

With the EBT case hanging over the club, Rangers were sold to Craig Whyte for £1 in May 2011 on the understanding he paid off their £18million bank debt and another tax bill of less than £3m.

He mortgaged season ticket sales to pay the bank and the club went into administration in February 2012 over a separate tax debt relating to unpaid PAYE and national insurance.

HMRC went on to win a legal challenge against the liquidated Rangers (now called RFC 2012 plc) over their use of EBTs, a test case which has allowed it to issue demands over the use of many other similar schemes.

The tax authority would have had to instigate fresh legal action to enforce the £24m penalties, but with little money in the pot for creditors, it did not challenge BDO’s assertion.