09 June 2023

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has announced that two companies have been ordered to stop selling specific avoidance schemes immediately or face an initial penalty of £100,000.

HMRC has issued stop notices to Peak PAYE Ltd and Saxonside Ltd for promoting disguised remuneration schemes designed to avoid paying national insurance (NI) and income tax.

HMRC named the two companies as tax avoidance promoters last year but have since been issued with stop notices requiring them to halt the sale of these schemes. Previously, HMRC could only publish the names of tax avoidance promoters but are now additionally able to publicise the issuing of stop notices.

A stop notice requires a company to immediately cease promoting an avoidance scheme, notify their clients that a stop notice has been issued and make quarterly compliance declarations to HMRC. Failure to do so can lead to an initial fine of up to £100,000 and unlimited accumulating penalties for other breaches of the notice of up £5000 per scheme user.

Mary Aiston, HMRC’s Director of Counter Avoidance, said:

“Stop Notices are a powerful way to close down individual schemes and ensure money goes to fund our vital public services. Peak PAYE and Saxonside must stop selling these schemes or face severe penalties.

Most schemes don’t work and risk taxpayers getting into debt. We've already made great strides in tackling promoters of tax avoidance and we’ll continue to act against those who design and sell schemes.

Anyone who thinks they may be involved in a tax avoidance scheme, or have been approached by a scheme promoter, should contact us as soon as possible to get help."

‘Tougher consequences for promoters of tax avoidance’ consultation was launched by the government on 27 April 2023. It introduces a criminal offence for promoters failing to comply with stop notices. The consultation seeks responses on the scope of the new criminal offence, its potential impact on taxpayers and the safeguards and protections in place. The aim is to further strengthen HMRC’s powers to tackle promoters of tax avoidance and drive them out of business. The CIPP policy team will be responding to this consultation and the response will be published after the 22 June 2023.

Read the full press release here.

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