Crest Nicholson has been told to pay £1.3m it unsuccessfully tried to keep under a stamp duty land tax (SDLT) avoidance scheme after a tribunal found in the taxman's favour.
The FTSE 250 housebuilder had used the scheme to avoid paying SDLT, by transferring assets between two sub-companies, on three purchases of land for development in Kent, which cost more than £32m in total.
HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) said the first tier tribunal decision, which happened earlier this year but was formally announced by the taxman over the weekend, could affect more than 700 similar cases with £65m of taxes on the line.
The Chertsey-based company also failed to argue HMRC was out of time to legally make assessments of the tax due and had not carried out its assessments properly.
"This decision makes it clear that setting up artificial and complex arrangements involving sub-companies to avoid paying tax doesn't work," said Jennie Granger, HMRC's director general, customer compliance. "It's another important success that's protected taxpayers' money.
"This win sends a clear message that tax avoidance is expensive and self-defeating."
Crest Nicholson has not yet responded to City A.M.'s request for comment.