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Celebrity Tax Evasion Stories

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It’s not a secret that the accounting profession is widely known as ‘boring’. I see posts and memes about this as I scroll through the internet so thought I would purposely try to find some interesting stories related to accounting. I decided on celebrity tax evasion, here I’ll tell you the juiciest tax stories and try to make it as interesting as I possibly can!

Taxes are one of the most frustrating and unavoidable obstacles that must be encountered by basically everyone. It’s what holds us together; without it, there would be no roads, schools or emergency services. No matter who you are or what you do, there’s one thing for certain, if you are alive and working, the tax man wants a cut of your earnings.

Here is a list of some celebrities who tried to dodge the tax man:

Dolce and Gabana:

This was one of the most famous and widely discussed cases of celebrity tax evasion of all time. The case sent the fashion world into meltdown and it lasted nearly a decade before finally coming to a close. The two designers were sentenced to 18 months imprisonment and a fine of 10 million euros was also imposed over avoidance of payments in Italy, where corporate taxes are among the highest in Europe.

Gary Barlow:

In 2014 Barlow along with a couple of Take That members invested £66 million into two partnerships styled as music industry investment schemes. A judge ruled that 51 partnerships set up by the company were intended to secure tax relief for members. Take That’s lawyers insisted that the band mates believed the investments were legitimate but they had to repay more than £20 million to HM Revenue & Customs.

Ja Rule:

He is a Grammy-nominated hip hop artist who was well known in the 2000s. He’s mostly known nowadays for his role in the Fyre Festival; a fraudulent music festival in the Bahamas. He was sentenced in 2011 for tax evasion due to not filing his tax returns between 2004 – 2006. In his own words, the reason for his tax troubles was that “he was a young man who made a lot of money” but “didn’t know how to deal with these finances.” He was required to pay $1.1 million and spent some time in prison for tax evasion along with a separate criminal possession charge.

Wesley Snipes:

He acted in 8 movies between 1999-2004 earning approximately $38 million dollars however, he didn’t pay income taxes for any of this. In 2010 he was sentenced for committing six counts of failing to file tax returns, one count of conspiracy and one count of fraud (but was only charged for 3.) He avoided $7 million in taxes by listening to an accountant who claimed you did not have to legally pay taxes.

Lionel Messi:

Barcelona star Messi and his father were both prosecuted by the Spanish Supreme Court in relation to tax fraud in 2016. The court said they had used tax havens in South America as well as shell companies across Europe to avoid paying taxes totaling over €4 million between 2007 – 2009. The outcome of the trial saw Messi receive a 21 month prison sentence, although Spanish Law allowed him to serve this on probation.

David Beckham:

He was among more than 1000 people who invested in the Ingenious film financing schemes in the hope of securing tax relief. Other celebrities such as Ant and Dec, Bob Geldof and Wayne Rooney also bought in. HMRC said Ingenious claimed relief on artificial losses from its film meaning the schemes were not legitimate opportunities but actually means of avoiding tax. Those who used the Ingenious scheme had to invest at least £100,000 and were promised generous tax breaks on any losses incurred, many subsequently claimed they were unaware of the risks. The celebrities involved lost the legal battle to overturn their £700 million tax bill. Tax avoiders have since been prevented from being rewarded with knighthoods due to their poor financial behaviour. HMRC believe that this is not consistent with the award of honour.

Do you have anymore? We'd love to hear them:

What are we really seeking from our jobs?

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Everywhere I look lately there’s a post about flexible working, a 4-day week or simply just news about what employees are looking for in their jobs. Having changed my career path not too long ago I’m always interested to hear what other people seek from their current positions and what intrigues them into making a move.

Throughout the years, employees’ desires and demands have evolved, leaving many challenges for companies. Balance careers suggest that companies who have engaging and productive workplaces are more likely to have staff who love their jobs. They say that employees should offer fair compensation and benefits and set clear expectations and goals. They also explain that to gain the most out of your work environment, you should determine your expectations. I did a little searching around to find out what the nations’ expectations really are; salary (obviously) came up first followed by work life balance, flexible working, career development and location. This contradicts a recent survey conducted by our sister company Fellows and Associates who found that most people were more interested in flexible working than salary.

The number of employers who are referencing flexible working as a selling point for their business is becoming more prevalent. This must be due to the number of candidates who admit that flexible working is one of the most important factors when searching for in a new job. Totaljobs investigated further and found that, from a survey of 4,000 candidates, 66% of employers now offer flexible working of some kind, 74% offer part-time work while 65% offer the option to work from home. Although many companies are recognising what candidates desire, most ask employees to put together an application to request flexible working within their company. While employees have the right to ask for part time working arrangements or flexible hours, employers are able to refuse the request based on how it could adversely affect the company.

While researching for this article I also came across many other factors which are considered by candidates when searching for their perfect job. These include job satisfaction, mutual respect and a great work environment. These are the values I have always been aware of; I would have said I was looking for something along these lines at some point in my career so far too. It seems that times are changing though and it’s possible that employees are becoming harder to please. I question whether this is how the conversation about flexible working and a 4-day week has begun; the more hype generated, the more that employees expect from their employment. It could be argued that we are a nation who want what our friends have, we feel that we deserve more from our jobs based on what our peers are receiving. With this being said, Totaljobs conducted another survey researching what employers thought to the change in the job market. They found that 42% thought that jobseekers are becoming pickier and 39% thought that recruitment is more candidate led, I’m swaying more towards the pickier option (although they’re not mutually exclusive). What do you think?

So, although there are many factors which build into a perfect job. I wanted to base this article mostly on the benefits that employees are asking for in the current market. My original question was; what do we really want from our jobs? While writing this article though, I thought of a few more questions… Is it enough just being happy at work? Are we looking for a good salary and to be happy? Or do we want something much more than that? Are we expecting a salary which will raise every year as well as to be happy, enjoy our work environment, work from home twice a week with hours chosen by ourselves and be respected by our bosses? It begs the question; will that be enough for us if the market changes again in the future? Will we be discussing a 2-day working week in 10 years’ time?

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Our first finance conference

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Before Accountex:

I started my job in finance recruitment in September last year after deciding to leave my awful job as a teacher! Since then, I’ve attended only one corporate conference - a recruitment one. I made a few errors there: I wore shoes that rubbed me and made my feet ache, I accepted way too many freebies and ate way too many sweets. This time I’m hoping that, as we’re exhibiting, my eyes might not pop out each time I see a popcorn stand or a cocktail (the best freebie ever) and that I won’t come home with a red mark on my shoulder from all the free booklets and bags I’d squeezed into my actual bag.

I’m hoping that I will be able to visit at least a couple of lectures over the two days though (so I might be able to grab some free sweets then). Last time I did come away with a really handy speaker that was actually louder than my Alexa so if anyone sees another, bring it over to me please!

Aside from the freebies, we are very much looking forward to exhibiting at Accountex this year. Our hope is that we will meet a variety of finance professionals (who are hopefully looking for new jobs) and who will give us even more insight into the profession. We are expecting people to visit us to eat our freebies (obviously, as a sweet lover, we are going for sweets), enter our prize draws and to hopefully chat to us about what we do and maybe how we can help but also just for a general conversation about the sector and how their day is going!

My colleague Pete Fellows has visited many more conferences than me, although they have been in the legal sector. Since my information is basically don’t take all the freebies and wear comfortable shoes, I’ve asked him for a few other recommendations on how to get by. He suggested that you should enter any competition you find, as many people don’t you have a good chance of winning! He’s also said that you should try and focus, it’s tempting to talk to everyone but if you go with clear goals, you’re likely to achieve more. Having said that, he’s also said that you should be open minded – some incidental conference conversations can lead to big things in the future so spending a few minutes with someone new really doesn’t do any harm! Finally make sure you add everyone you meet to LinkedIn and not leave piles of business cards in your desk for months gathering dust.

After Accountex:

The good news is; I didn’t come home with red shoulders and my feet didn’t ache as much as last time. The bad news is; there were no where near as many freebies! As an exhibitor I felt that the sign around my neck restricted me from collecting mounds of chocolates and sweets this year, I mostly just ate the Haribo that we had taken with us for our stand (oops). One lovely lady did give me a token to the stand who were handing out free cocktails so I was able to enjoy one yummy freebie!

We did meet many finance professionals from different backgrounds (as we had hoped) although not many were actively looking for new positions. We were able to form some relationships and hand out business cards so hopefully this will pay off for us in the future. Many people visited our stand, especially for the Haribo but also to enter our competition and to ask us about what we did which was great!

It was busier than we expected and the crowds came in waves, sometimes we were really busy and sometimes there was no one around. I had a chance to attend a couple of lectures but should really aim to see a few more if we attend again next year. Now I need to take Pete’s advice and find the time to connect to everyone that we met at Accountex on LinkedIn!

Did you visit Accountex? What did you think? Email us at



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