HMRC tops £4bn in tax avoidance scheme crackdown

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has collected more than £4bn through its controversial ‘pay now, dispute later’ accelerated payment notices rules, for people who have used a tax avoidance scheme.

HMRC said that more than 75,000 accelerated payment notices (APNs) have been issued to people under enquiry for tax avoidance since rules were introduced in 2014. And HMRC has now issued APNs on all the schemes that were already under investigation when the new rules came in, it said in statement.

Also, last week, the High Court confirmed that HMRC had won another Judicial Review of the APN regime – the department has now won six out of six Judicial Reviews.

HMRC said that it has collected an average of £38,400 each day by requiring people in avoidance schemes to pay their disputed tax upfront. The average bill for large companies trying to avoid tax is £6m, while for individuals and small corporates it’s £74,000.

In comparison, the worker on an average salary who doesn’t try to avoid tax pays less than £6,000 in National Insurance and income tax in a year.

‘Undue burden’

David Richardson, director general for customer compliance group in HMRC, said: “The vast majority of people play by the rules and pay their taxes on time – people who try to do otherwise place an undue burden on everyone else.

“APNs have helped level the playing field by changing the economics of avoidance.”

Richardson added that HMRC is “pleased” that the High Court has again supported it’s operation of the Accelerated Payments regime.

People who receive an APN have 90 days to pay up or make representation to HMRC if they think it is incorrect – with HMRC upholding 90% of decisions.

HMRC added that it currently has more than 600 schemes and 80,000 users under investigation. The UK tax authority wins around eight out of ten cases taken to court, with many more settling before litigation, its statement said.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Gary Robinson
Deputy Editor, International Investment and Head of Video at Open Door Media Publishing. A fully qualified journalist and filmmaker with more than 20 years' financial services experience, both as journalist and originally as an IFA.

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