Directors and shareholders in limited companies cannot be pursued by creditors under normal circumstances but special provisions exist for ordinary creditors and the tax authorities to pursue officers in a company if their behaviour transgresses acceptable standards.
The Social Security Administration Act 1992 allows HMRC to issue Personal Liability Notices to officers in a company for the recovery of company tax if they are guilty of fraud or “more serious levels of neglect”.
Generally HMRC may consider a case to involve more serious neglect where it can be established that against a background of persistent failure to pay the contributions due the company was making significant and/or regular payments:
to other creditors
to connected persons or companies
in the form of director’s salaries
A case may also be judged to involve more serious neglect where ‘culpable officers’ have been associated with previous liquidated companies or other companies that have demonstrated a failure to comply with the statutory requirements of the Income Tax PAYE and NIC legislations.
While I am sure Craig Whyte has acted with the utmost probity Duff and Phelps early comments that Rangers used tax as cash to operate the company with will concern many.
Rangers accumulated £15m in tax debt during Whyte’s tenure. In addition to his outstanding guarantees to Ticketus the Rangers owner will be alert that the administrators report could cast his actions in a poor light with respect to some of the above scenarios.
The £15m HMRC are demanding for this season is not cash Whyte received, Rangers used that money to fund a domestic and European football campaign. Rangers owe that money and Craig Whyte is unlikely to forgo his security (Ibrox stadium) without his potential tax and Ticketus positions being covered.
Any attempts to resolve the matters surrounding Rangers which does not provide funds for this obstacle is doomed to failure.
Only a few hours left to bid on the charity auction for the Neil Lennon painting.
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