Former "X Factor" U.K. judge Gary Barlow, his Take That band mates Howard Donald and Mark Owen and Take That manager Jonathan Wild are in tax trouble, after a U.K. judge ruled that they committed tax avoidance by setting up a tax shelters under false pretenses. According to an Irish Mirror report published on May 10, 2014: "Tax judge Colin Bishopp rejected arguments that more than 50 partnerships, set up by a company called Icebreaker Management, had been set up for commercial purposes."
Bishopp ruled: “Icebreaker is, and was known and understood by all concerned to be, a tax avoidance scheme. The aim was to secure [tax] relief for members, and to inflate the scale of the relief by unnecessary borrowing.”
According to the Irish Mirror, the Take That business partners "made more than £300 million for almost 1,000 investors" and "are likely to be ordered to repay more than £20 million to HM Revenue & Customs."
In U.S. dollars, £300 million is about $505 million, while £20 million is about $33.7 million.
The BBC noted that although tax evasion is illegal, tax avoidance is not illegal but is still subject to fines. According to the BBC: "Since March 2010, the four men have been directors of Larkdale LLP, one of 50 partnerships that Icebreaker arranged to harness tax reliefs that the government had intended would support those in creative industries ... The tribunal found that shortly after money was put in to Larkdale LLP, it reported huge losses of more than £25 million. Those losses could then be offset against tax, reducing the men's tax bills."
Barlow, Donald, Owen and Wild had no comment on the judge's ruling. The other members of Take That are Robbie Williams and Jason Orange, who are not involved in this case.
Barlow was a judge on "The X Factor" U.K. from 2011 to 2013. He left the show because he said he wanted to focus on his music career, which includes a new Take That album and tour. Barlow is also a successful solo artist who is involved in several charities, including being the chief organizer of the annual BBC Children in Need concert. According to the Sunday Times Rich List of 2013, Barlow is worth £60 million, which is about $101 million in U.S. dollars.
In April 2014, Barlow did a successful solo tour in the United Kingdom. Barlow, who is a founding member and chief songwriter of Take That, did the tour in support of his third solo album, "Since I Saw You Last," which was released in Europe on Nov. 25, 2013. The album debuted at No. 2 in the U.K.
Details about the next Take That album and tour are to be announced. Barlow says he does not know yet if Williams will be part of the next Take That album and tour. Williams has been an on-again/off-again member of Take That since the group was formed in 1990.