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Tax dodge hitlist: HMRC reveals avoidance schemes it has in its sights

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  • 15/07/2014
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Tax dodge hitlist: HMRC reveals avoidance schemes it has in its sights
A list of tax avoidance schemes whose users may be required to make an upfront payment of tax has been published today by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

HMRC said the list of scheme reference numbers – which those who use the schemes will recognise – is being published to help avoidance scheme users and their advisers prepare for ‘accelerated payments’.

The Finance Bill, which is due to receive Royal Assent later this month, gives HMRC a new power to collect accelerated payments, meaning users of schemes with a reference number on the list may receive a notice to make an upfront payment of tax.

Before issuing anyone with an accelerated payment notice, HMRC will write to them. Starting in August 2014, HMRC will phase the issuing of notices to current users over approximately 20 months.

The move follows a series of high profile actions against tax avoidance in recent days.

Business executives and sport stars – among them David Beckham – have been warned they must pay HMRC more than £520m after a government crackdown on schemes which exploit tax loopholes.

The Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury David Gauke, said: “Most people pay the tax that is due, when it is due, so it unacceptable that a minority seek to hold on to the tax they should pay by using avoidance schemes.

“Accelerated payments will tackle the small minority of taxpayers who are currently able to put off paying tax, sometimes for several years. This will put them on the same footing as the majority of taxpayers who pay their tax up front.”

Currently, taxpayers must disclose that they are using an avoidance scheme. HMRC may challenge the scheme.

Following Royal Assent to the Finance Bill, HMRC may seek upfront payment of the disputed tax in such cases. Taxpayers will be free to continue to make their case to the tribunal or court and, if successful, their money will be returned with interest.

HMRC said it “aims to help the increasing numbers who want to disentangle themselves from the increasingly fruitless practice of tax avoidance” and is encouraging anyone wanting to settle an avoidance issue to contact HMRC immediately on 03000 530 435.

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