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Take That stars face £20m tax avoidance bill

by Dylan Lobo on May 12, 2014 at 07:58

‘HMRC will continue to challenge in the courts anyone who engages in tax avoidance schemes... [These people] risk not only the high cost of these schemes but also lay themselves open to penalties and, potentially, prosecution.’

Chief secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander told The Times: ‘People who don’t pay the taxes they should undermine the economy, damage our public services and place and extra, unfair burden on hard working families and companies who play by the rules.’

The news comes as HMRC tightens it clampdown on tax avoidance. It is estimated around 17,000 people every year will have their accounts raided under new rules set out in the chancellor’s Budget earlier this year. 

MPs have expressed concern HMRC could take money straight from the accounts of innocent people without a court order.

'Prior to these rules, some taxpayers did take an inordinate amount of time to pay tax that was legally due. That is unfair to other taxpayers and frustrating for HMRC,' Andrew Watters, director and tax specialist at law firm Thomas Eggar said. 'If these powers come into force, there is likely to be the odd mistake and some people will suffer serious and unfair consequences.'

Watters added: 'So the question is whether we want a system which focuses on protecting the majority and accepts that some unscrupulous individuals will abuse the system; or a system which focuses on protecting the state from unscrupulous individuals and which accepts this will occasionally cause collateral damage to the innocent.'

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