Roux loses pounds 400,000 in battle with the taxman

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The Independent Online
One of Britain's best-known restaurateurs and his wife could face an estimated pounds 400,000 bill after a High Court judge yesterday ruled that the Inland Revenue was entitled to penalise them over a tax avoidance scheme. Michel Roux, who owns the Waterside Inn at Bray, near Maidenhead, Berkshire, and who with his elder brother, Albert, has run some of the country's best-known eateries, accused the Inland Revenue of acting unfairly and unlawfully.

The taxman decided to impose a hefty penalty after Mr Roux opted for a new occupational pension scheme in July 1995, transferring some pounds 900,000 out of the old pension scheme he shared with his wife, Robyn. The old scheme dating back to 1988, which had contained some pounds 1.3m for the benefit of Mr and Mrs Roux before the change, lost its official approval and exemption from tax and was assessed for tax at the rate of 40 per cent. Rejecting an application for judicial review, Mr Justice Tucker said: "Whether the tax avoidance scheme worked or not, the Revenue were justified in withdrawing approval for the old scheme."