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HMRC delivers pre-emptive strike against avoidance scheme

by Daniel Grote on Nov 26, 2012 at 08:25

HMRC delivers pre-emptive strike against avoidance scheme

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is sending letters to 1,500 people it believes have signed up to a tax avoidance scheme as a pre-emptive strike before challenging its legality, according to the BBC.

According to the BBC, the first batch of letters were set to be sent out on Saturday. One version of the letter states: 'You are in the small minority of people who have made the deliberate choice to avoid tax. We focus our resources on this small minority. The choice that you have made changes the way we view your tax affairs.

'Our Specialist Investigations Unit will be carrying out a full investigation into this scheme and they will open an enquiry into your tax affairs.'

The letter says those who use the scheme be ordered to pay outstanding tax plus interest or face a financial penalty. It provides contact and payments details for those who wish to pull out of the scheme.

It is the first time HMRC has issued such a warning, and forms part of its attempts to tackle a backlog of 41,000 tax avoidance cases representing £10.2 billion of tax.

5 comments so far. Why not have your say?

Alan Blunt

Nov 26, 2012 at 09:01

"Changes the way we view your tax affairs" and "open an enquiry into your tax affairs" surely a threat issued in this manner is nothing short of bully boy tactics.

I wonder whether they sent the same type of letter to Members of Parliament after it was identified that they were avoiding tax by using the expenses loophole.

If you can't write legislation in a manner that doesn't allow these loopholes to avoid tax perhaps they should do the decent thing and resign and recruit capable people rather than issue threats.

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Compliance Bloke

Nov 26, 2012 at 09:04

Does anyone know which scheme this relates to?

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Mark Incledon

Nov 26, 2012 at 09:36

There should be no surprises here. HMRC have been applying a zero tolerance policy towards agressive tax planning for some time now. Schemes of this nature are bound to attract attention! There are still plenty of legitimate preapproved tax sheltering wrappers out there.

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NeilG

Nov 26, 2012 at 10:20

'You are in the small minority of people who have made the deliberate choice to avoid tax."

Strikes me as a rather odd turn of phrase. Don't people often choose to go self employed, or be paid in dividends, to deliberately avoid tax? Or surrender an investment either side of two tax years to deliberately avoid paying tax.

Or make large pension payments.

Or make charitable donations?

I'm pretty sure all this tax saving isn't done by accident.

If the scheme itself is rotten and is abusing current tax rules then fine. Shut the schemes down, punish those responsible. And check the advise these people were given before accusing them. they may have been told it was all above bored etc etc. It which case the punishment should be with the person advising the investment.

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Market Man

Nov 26, 2012 at 12:44

'deliberate choice'? Is there any other kind?

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