HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has begun sending out letters to tax avoidance experts, warning them that if they do not change their behaviours they will be publicly shamed and forced to reveal details of their clients, Contractor UK reports.
Under the new High-Risk Promoters (HRP) rules, parliament has essentially given the taxman the authority to identify, monitor, fine and reveal any ‘high-risk’ avoidance promoters that taxpayers should avoid – else their personal details could be made available.
What’s more, advisers could face fines relating to the tax advantage gained from using the scheme in question, as well as a £1 million penalty if they fail to deliver information requested by the HMRC.
One contractor adviser told CUK that: “This approach is likely to act as a major deterrent to scheme providers but also to scheme users or contractors, as it essentially gives HMRC power to gain details of anyone trying to avoid paying tax.”
So far, of the 20 advisories that are deemed accountable for aggressive avoidance schemes, just four have been contacted – having been described as “persistently uncooperative and opaque in their dealings” with tax officials.
Treasury minister David Gauke has also warned taxpayers about the dangers of such schemes, explaining that the government has taken “unprecedented steps to clampdown on the selfish minority who practise tax avoidance.”
“I would strongly advise anyone thinking of signing up to a scheme which they have been told will legally reduce their tax bill to carefully consider today’s list of things a promoter may not tell you,” he added.