MPs have called on HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) to name and shame promoters and sellers of tax avoidance schemes which use legal loopholes and abuse available tax reliefs.
The Public Accounts Committee said the promoters of such schemes were ‘running rings’ around HMRC which was losing ‘a game of cat of mouse’ in its bid to shut them done.
Margaret Hodge, who chairs the committee, said the current system worked in favour of the scheme promoters and their clients and that the taxman needed to do more than just publish details of the schemes it successfully closes, and should name and shame the people behind it and it clients.
‘HMRC should publicly name and shame those who sell or use tax avoidance schemes in order to discourage such activity,’ she said.
Hodge singled out film schemes.
‘They create schemes which exploit loopholes in legislation or abuse available tax reliefs such as those intended to encourage investment in British films, and then sign up as many clients as possible, knowing that it will take time for HMRC to change the law and shut the scheme down,’ she said.
‘Their clients can then take advantage of this window of opportunity to make a lot of money at the expense of the UK taxpayer, while the promoter simply moves on to a new a scheme and repeats the process. It is a game of cat and mouse and HMRC is losing.’
Hodge’s comments come as the Public Accounts Committee published its latest report which examined marketed tax avoidance schemes and was based on evidence from HM Revenue & Customs, Tax Trade, Future Capital Partners and Ingenious Media.