Ian Fleming, author of the James Bond novels, may have been a master of the
spy thriller, but he did not avoid suspicion from government himself – for the
handling of his tax affairs, writes our parliamentary correspondent.
Inland Revenue papers released last week from the National Archive showed
that, at one stage in the early sixties, tax inspectors were divided over
whether some of his financial dealings amounted to ‘tax avoidance’.
The case arose over the handling of the film rights of Casino Royale, Live
and Let Die and Moonraker, which were gifted by Fleming to a family trust.
A Revenue board memo at the time said that ‘opinions may differ whether this
is or is not tax avoidance’. But a special literary and artistic profits section
ruled there was no tax liability.
In 1964 however, the Revenue officers changed their minds and decided there
was tax to pay. Fleming himself died in August of that year.
It was not until three years later, with the loss of a test case against the
author Hammond Innes, that the Revenue finally lost interest in Fleming’s
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