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UK taxman hands F1 187m

NEWS STORY
05/04/2018

As Liberty Media prepares to reveal to the teams its plans for the future of Formula One, in terms of the engine rules post-2020 and the way in which the prize fund will be divided, it has been revealed that the sport has benefitted from a 187.5m pay out from the British tax authorities.

Documents released by Liberty Media reveal that in 2017 it received $253m (187.5m) from HMRC as a "net tax benefit for a settlement reached by Formula 1 with the U.K. tax authorities".

The payment follows a restructuring whereby offshore parent companies of Formula One were switched to UK based companies.

According to ITV News, prior to this the offshore companies gave huge loans to UK subsidiaries at high interest. In turn, the high interest rates charged forced the subsidiaries into the red meaning they paid little or no tax.

Consequently, F1's profits were negated by the interest and as this was received offshore it could be paid out without tax being deducted there either.

The government gave the scheme the red light last year when it introduced legislation which capped the amount of tax-deductible interest on these loans at 30% of profits.

It was thought that this would boost F1's tax bill as its interest payments had completely cancelled out its profits in some years. In 2016 Liberty warned in its filings that "changes in tax laws, including pending legislation, could adversely affect the results of Formula 1." Liberty added that its shareholders should "expect low double digit effective cash tax rate." However, thanks to HMRC, the new legislation didn't make as big a dent in its bottom line as was expected.

In fact F1 ended up with a 187.5m boost and according to Liberty's chief financial officer Mark Carleton "2017 cash taxes for F1 were approximately 2%" compared to the standard rate of 19%. So although it remains to be seen how the teams will react to Liberty's plans, it already has something to be happy about.

On the other hand, at a time British race fans have only two more home Grands Prix to look forward to before Silverstone's contract comes to an end - its owners, the British Racing Drivers' Club, having pulled the plug last year having failed to agree a more favourable deal with Liberty - it remains to be seen how news of this tax pay-out will go down.

The British Grand Prix is the only event on the entire F1 calendar that doesn't receive any government aid and yet now it is revealed that courtesy of some very clever accounting manoeuvres the American-owned sport has walked away with almost 190m in British taxpayers money.

Check out our Thursday gallery from Bahrain, here.

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1. Posted by ESTM PRFT, 05/04/2018 23:33

"Is there more to this story? With such a payout by the British tax authorities, will the U.S. (Uncle Sam) Infernal Revenue Service come a-knocking? Will Liberty kick back some of the monies to the venues, especially Silverstone, to help preserve the British Grand Prix and other 'Classic' races? Time will tell - I think more may come out on this. I'm hoping it's all good news.
"

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