F1 champion Hamilton avoided taxes on jet

Revelations in the Paradise Papers allege that Lewis Hamilton received a $6 million VAT refund in 2013.
Revelations in the Paradise Papers allege that Lewis Hamilton received a $6 million VAT refund in 2013.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON • Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton avoided paying taxes on his private jet using an elaborate scheme now under investigation by British tax authorities, new leaked documents revealed.

The driver received a £3.3 million (S$6 million) value-added tax (VAT) refund in 2013 after his luxury plane was imported into the Isle of Man - a low-tax British Crown Dependency, according to the BBC and The Guardian.

The revelations are the latest to emerge from the so-called Paradise Papers, released by the US-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

They allege accountancy firm EY and Appleby - the Bermuda-based law firm at the centre of the leaks - assisted Hamilton and dozens of other clients in setting up seemingly artificial leasing businesses to get multimillion-pound VAT rebates.

The complex arrangements, which involved the individuals forming entities that rented their own jets, may contravene Europe-wide rules forbidding refunds for personal use, the media outlets said.

Representatives for Hamilton could not be reached by AFP for comment. His lawyers told the BBC a review by a tax barrister found the structure was lawful, and that some VAT had been paid through the arrangements. There is also no indication that Hamilton was directly involved in creating the scheme, and simply followed professional advice, The Guardian said.

EY said it does not discuss individual clients.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 08, 2017, with the headline 'F1 champion Hamilton avoided taxes on jet'. Print Edition | Subscribe