The HMRC has proposed new measures to help combat the problem of serial tax avoidance, Shout 99 reports.
Currently, tax avoiders can be penalised for taking part in avoidance schemes, but in its paper ‘Strengthening Sanctions for Tax Avoidance’ the HMRC has underlined a number of additional sanctions, including additional surcharges and reporting requirements.
The proposals also discuss the idea of introducing added penalties if a case incorporates the General Anti-Abuse Rule (GAAR) – in the most extreme avoidance cases.
The news comes in the wake of chancellor George Osborne’s statement last December, which promised a consultation would begin on what to do about repeated tax avoidance activity. It is part of a wider clampdown on the issue that has also seen the establishment of a new Serial Avoiders Unit (SAU) to deal solely with identifying and tackling scheme users.
David Gauke, financial secretary to the Treasury, has stated: “HMRC has already issued notices worth over £1 billion, requiring avoidance scheme users to pay their tax upfront.”
“We are proposing further action to tackle the small hard-core group of people who repeatedly use avoidance schemes. Our message is clear: it is time to get out of avoidance and start paying your fair share.”
The HMRC has also unveiled a ‘top ten’ list that those using multiple schemes should be aware of. In brief, these include:
1. This is a serious issue being severely clamped down on by government.
2. More and more people are getting out of avoidance schemes and coming forward to HMRC themselves, protecting their reputation.
3. HMRC will work with you if you you show a willingness to resolve the problem and settle your term liability. They can talk you through exit strategies for each scheme.
4. HMRC is moving in and increasing their focus on multiple scheme users.
5. The responsibility of a person’s tax affairs lies with them, not necessarily the agent or promoter.
6. The SAU is solely designated to dealing with this problem.
7. You may be required to attend meetings with HMRC investigators.
8. All of your tax affairs will be explored, including current activity and any entities you are connected with.
9. You could have to pay up-front, with HMRC wanting to recover duties as soon as possible.
10. Careless behaviour or failure to disclose avoidance could result in heavy sanctions – including criminal conviction.