Clamping down on promoters of tax avoidance - HMRC Consultation

18 May 2021

On 23 March 2021, HMRC released several consultations and call for evidence documents, one of which was the consultation on clamping down on the promoters of tax avoidance. The document sets out the planned approach on how those found foul of this practice will be treated in respect of fines and timeframes in which the consequences will apply.

Tax avoidance unfortunately is present in a lot of practices, however, can be unnoticed by those that engage with such organisations. The government is committed to strengthening the support provided to taxpayers to help them spot when they are being sold a tax avoidance scheme and make them aware of the risks of entering tax avoidance.

Promoters are becoming more and more advanced in their use of advertising and marketing to lure customers into tax avoidance schemes with publicity material focusing on the promised tax benefits of the scheme, however, it is usually silent about the true risks of such schemes, and what happens when HMRC reveals that the scheme does not deliver the benefits promised or a scheme is defeated in court. As a result of this, too often taxpayers who enter a tax avoidance scheme are left with substantial tax bills.

All taxpayers are legally responsible for their own tax affairs and therefore, users of tax avoidance schemes are no different. Making information clear on the correct processes are necessary to ensure that anyone who enters into a scheme of this kind are fully aware of the consequences of doing so.

In recent months, HMRC has launched various communications within this realm, giving taxpayers guidance on what is acceptable practice and what is, in short, too good to be true and is most likely falling into the sphere of tax avoidance.

The CIPP's Policy and Research team would like to know your views on whether you feel information provided on how to avoid tax avoidance schemes has been communicated by HMRC effectively. Do you feel the documents and guidance produced to be of use? Has it been complicated to access or even digest? We would also welcome any suggestions on how this could be improved, and any recommendations will be fed into our formal response to the consultation. To share your views, please email [email protected]

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