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Edinburgh Fringe venue resolves tax dispute

12th Sep 2013
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A popular Edinburgh Fringe venue has resolved an “unpaid monies” tax dispute after reaching agreement with HMRC.

Over the last month the Summerhall venue has been at the centre of a battle in the Scottish capital over its tax payments to the Revenue.

Early last month, as the Fringe was in full swing, HMRC lodged a petition with Edinburgh Sheriff Court asking for an order that the company running the venue, Summerhall Management, be wound up and for the court to appoint a liquidator.

The petition also said Summerhall was told by letter on 11 July that it owed a total of £202,848.

In a subsequent letter to performers seen by Herald Scotland, the venue's programme director Rupert Thomson acknowledged that the company was in dispute with HMRC over “the amount of tax we are due to pay” while reassuring performers that they would be paid for work in August.

Following a successful Fringe, where the venue sold more than 36,000 tickets, it has now resolved the issue. It is understood the unpaid monies were the result of a mix-up or oversight connected to the rapid growth in popularity of the venue.

Sam Gough, general manager at Summerhall, said: “As planned, Summerhall has resolved all issues with HMRC.

“We're looking forward to moving into an exciting autumn programme of events, theatre and performance - and looking back on an incredibly successful festival for all our companies and artists many of whom we hope to welcome back in the near future,” he told the Herald.

Philip Fisher, a regular AccountingWEB columnist and British Theatre Guide London editor, last month wrote about the Edinburgh festivals, but was not aware at the time of the ongoing tax dispute.

Having watched ‘La Merda (The Shit)’ at the Summerhall venue, which Fisher describes as "a popular venue with the trendier visitors", he recalled how the previous unconnected owners of a different Fringe venue had gone bust as well. Remarkable Arts operated the Hill Street Theatre and St George’s West and owed tens of thousands of pounds in unpaid box office receipts during the 2011 Fringe.

“It wasn’t an obvious place to go bust, but I suppose it must have come down to them not having a decent business plan in place,” he said.

On the recent tax dispute for the current owners of the venue, Fisher speculated that it was most likely to have been a VAT or PAYE issue for the venue.

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