World champion Lewis Hamilton has reportedly avoided tax on his £16.5million private jet.
The BBC has reported that Paradise Papers documents show a £3.3million VAT refund was given after the aircraft was imported into the Isle of Man in 2013.
It is alleged that Hamilton’s accountants and lawyers helped him – and others – set up companies through which they rented their own jets from themselves.
A spokesman for the Mercedes driver said on Monday evening that everything was “above board”.
Any private jet purchased outside the European Union is subject to 20 per cent VAT.
Under UK and EU legislation, Hamilton would have been entitled to a VAT rebate on the jet if it was to be used purely for business purposes.
Hamilton’s pictures on social media would appear to back up those claims, with photographs showing him using the plane to travel on holiday.
According to the BBC, Hamilton’s lawyers said there had been no illegal activity but admitted no VAT had been paid on the plane.
“If private usage of the jet is being disguised as business usage of the jet, then what you essentially have is a tax avoidance scheme,” Rita De La Feria, professor of tax law at Leeds University, told the BBC.
“You’re using it for your own private interests, you’re going on holidays, meeting friends. You’re supposed to pay the tax on private consumption.”
A spokesman for Hamilton told Press Association Sport: “As a global sportsman who pays tax in a large number of countries, Lewis relies upon a team of professional advisers who manage his affairs.
“Those advisers have assured Lewis that everything is above board and the matter is now in the hands of his lawyers.”
Hamilton won his fourth world drivers’ title at the Mexico Grand Prix last month.