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HMRC offers deal over £3.5bn tax avoidance schemes

by Daniel Grote on Dec 20, 2012 at 09:39

HMRC offers deal over £3.5bn tax avoidance schemes

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is to offer a settlement to investors it believes have avoided tax through film partnerships and other schemes, according to The Guardian.

The paper said the terms of the offer were unclear, but would affect schemes estimated to have sheltered a combined £3.5 billion in tax.

HMRC told the paper the approach was ‘the best opportunity to resolve these disputes in a way which was cost-effective and consistent with the law’. It said that those who did not take up the offer would risk ‘accelerated disputes and litigation’.

7 comments so far. Why not have your say?

Arthur Schopenhauer

Dec 20, 2012 at 10:25

We don't have enough staff at HMRC ( they work for the big accountants now) or enough politically ambitious judges so rather than bringing in more retrospective legislation here is an idea brought forward from April 1st

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Dec 20, 2012 at 11:05

Well it would be a lot more useful if the article gave a figure of what the outstanding bill was.

If there's £35bn potential tax wrapped up in these immoral, fraudulent, parasitic schemes (did I plant my flag firmly enough?) then writing off £3.5bn is a decent deal.

If there's £4bn and they're writing off £3.5bn then that is lazy.

Let's be pragmatic and realistic though, before HMRC got so interested in these things there was £Xbn out of the system. Any percentage is better than 0% and if it saves the public purse further billions in faffing about and spending money even more parasites arguing with parasites in court, then I'll take what I can.

Whatever the outcome, it'll put a few people off using them and lower the commissions of the rodents that flog the plans.

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Dec 20, 2012 at 11:05

If the offer is similar to that offered to those who used Employee Benefit Trusts or EFURBs in a similar manner to Rangers FC then it will be basically cough up all the tax and interest on late payment even though you may take a different view of the interpretation of the law as laid down by Parliament. If you don't take up our offer we will take as long as we like to deal with your case whilst we pick the weakest relevant similar case to take to the First Tier Tribunal at the taxpayer's expense. If our counterarguments are weak we will continue until we reach the Supreme Court at the taxpayers expense, with no guarantee of success.

The idea of an offer is to compromise for the benefit of both HMRC and the taxpayer. The details of this latest offer are keenly awaited - let's hope common sense has prevailed this time.

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John Smyth 3

Dec 20, 2012 at 11:06

Income tax is becoming so optional for the wealthy it is starting to look like charitable donations to the down and out UK. We can't really expect much different from Dave and his party though can we.

What is needed is additional legislation and many more staff in HMRC. There are more than enough unemployed who would relish the chance of employment in HMRC.

There is a limit to how many accountancy firms will poach and the increased tax take would more than pay for training and employment costs and it would also reduce unemployment.

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Paul Davis

Dec 20, 2012 at 13:09

In response to the previous comment - the deal with Rangers, HMRC lost their case as the scheme was lawful.

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Ian Watson

Dec 21, 2012 at 08:21

This is the entire problem . . . so are Film schemes ( largely ).

The problem is that tax incentives should be have fewer loopholes so that the "Law on Unintended Consequences" has less chance to take over the end use of the incentive.

Tax breaks are usually designed to encourage employment in a certain area or industry. They will always be scrutinised by the clever, and unscrupulous, to find an alternative use of the benefit.

A few generalisations here but . . .

RE films overall, should we not accept that, like top footballers, megastars are vastly overpaid, thus making some films unprofitable, or that the UK based film industry is simply not "good enough" to survive in the global film world ?

How many jobs are saved in our film industry for the cost of the tax breaks ? Is it worth it ?

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Arthur Schopenhauer

Dec 21, 2012 at 08:56

Is the problem that the HMRC sponsored arrangements are so complex that you need an army of lawyers and accountants to write a complex document absolving all from responsibility rather than focusing on real projects. The result is poor value for the investor and frustration of the Treasury objective

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