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Dodgy umbrella company tax schemes investigated

A High Court has ordered two accountancy firms into liquidation after an investigation was conducted by the Insolvency Service.

Bradbury & Co and Sunday Solutions were closed down in the interests of the public and freelancers after their tax schemes were investigated.

The firms' clients were mainly IT contractors who were offered limited liability partnerships. Under an LLP, the firm keeps tax liabilities until tax payments are due. The firms handled an estimated £80m for their 1,500 clients but the insolvency service said that no money was released to settle tax liabilities.

The insolvency service also found that more than 100 bank accounts were opened on behalf of partnerships but the LLPs were not registered with Companies House. It also discovered that clients were being charged excessive fees for the service which sometimes amounted to up to 30% of earnings.

Clients made numerous complaints to the companies but no action was taken. Disgruntled former clients formed an action group SundayBradbury. The directors of the accountancy firms refused to co-operate fully throughout the Insolvency Service investigation.

The companies did not oppose the winding up order but they also did not admit the allegations made against them. Ms Registrar Barber explained that winding up the two firms was in the public interest.

The investigations supervisor of the Insolvency Service, Chris Mayhew, warned freelancers thinking of making use of an umbrella tax scheme to ensure the company they choose is reliable.

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