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HMRC threatens tax-avoidance scheme promoters with £1m fines

HMRC has warned firms promoting tax avoidance schemes could be fined up to £1m, the Financial Times reports.

HMRC has written to several firms it has identified as “high-risk promoters” following the inclusion of measures to stamp out tax avoidance in the latest Finance Bill.

Treasury minister David Gauke says the crackdown will “tackle the small minority of tax advisers who are persistently uncooperative and are not transparent in their dealings with HMRC”.

According to the FT, HMRC believes there are currently around 20 firms responsible for aggressive tax avoidance schemes. This year’s Finance Bill has given the Revenue powers to monitor certain firms.

If these firms breach specific conditions, they will be publicly identified and forced to hand over product and client information.

HMRC director-general of enforcement and compliance Jennie Granger says: “The new high-risk promoters rules are designed to encourage promoters to improve their behaviour. If they don’t change their ways, we’ll be able to apply to the tax tribunal to badge them as high-risk and so help steer the public away from engaging with them.”

The continued crackdown on tax avoidance has seen the number of new tax avoidance schemes reduced from 116 in 2009/10 to just 28 in 2013/14.

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Comments

There are 3 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Marvin the paranoid android 6th November 2014 at 9:21 am

    So much for “market forces driving innovation and entrepreneurial behaviors”…

  2. correlationstreet 6th November 2014 at 10:23 am

    A fine for being “persistently uncooperative”, but not breaking the law – watch out little Jonny sat in the back row of class – you’ll be next in this nanny knows best nonsense. This is a dangerous precedent (not that it’s been tested yet) This is all too late in the day anyhow looking at the dramatically reduced number of promoters – more Govt spin after the damage has been done. By now the public have enough information about the questionability of these arrangements to make their own decision – and more to the point “the public” don’t use these arrangements anyway.

  3. Hmmm…like so many things the devil of this is in the detail. Fined for promoting tax evasion – certainely – that and more, it’s criminal, literally. But avoidance is legal, and comes in various shades of grey. One assumes ISA’s and Pensions won’t be deemed “aggressive” . Some other products slide into the greyer area, with HMRC revieweing all sorts of schemes which use pretty standard reliefs, and then there’s schemes which can involve “shop front” offshore post box addresses as a “jolly good wheeze” aiming to apply odd loopholes for purposes for which they were never intended.

    One would hope that if both provider and intermediary had been open with HMRC, they would then, 2 years down the line, not slap on a fine. Equally it would be nice if having been furnished with full details of any proposed scheme HMRC would say yay or nay…….some chance!

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