| LONDON, March 27
LONDON, March 27 Britain's largest listed
property company Land Securities has lost a legal
battle over a 60 million pound ($91 million) tax bill.
Britain's tax office brought the case as public spending
cuts fuel public anger and legislative scrutiny in countries
around the world over tax avoidance by companies such as
Starbucks and Amazon.
Land Securities, a FTSE 100 developer, sold shares in one of
its group companies to a Cayman Island subsidiary of Morgan
Stanley, which put money into the company. Land
Securities bought back the shares at a higher price and claimed
a loss that could be deducted against tax.
Describing the scheme as "flagrant tax avoidance", HM
Revenue and Customs Director General for Business Tax, Jim
Harra, said the ruling sends "a clear message that indulging in
tax avoidance is now a very high risk and expensive strategy,
because HMRC will continue to challenge avoidance at every
Land Securities said it was disappointed by the decision and
that it had already paid the disputed bill.
"Land Securities has never sought to avoid paying tax that
it owes," it said in a statement. "The recent tribunal decision
relates to an historic issue going back over 10 years, linked to
the raising of debt finance by Land Securities companies which
were all UK tax resident."
Morgan Stanley declined to comment.