HMRC has sent out a 'warning shot' to users of a perfectly legal tax avoidance scheme, encouraging them to leave before it is too late.
The letters, distributed to 1,500 individuals, are seen as a pre-emptive strike by the taxman prior to a legal challenge of the unnamed scheme in court.
According to the BBC, four different versions of the letter have been sent out, with one stating: 'You are in the small minority of people who have made the deliberate choice to avoid tax. We focus our resources on this small minority. The choice that you have made changes the way we view your tax affairs.'
It is understood to be the first time HMRC has sent out correspondence concerning a currently legal scheme, and it is hoped that a potentially lengthy and costly legal battle can be avoided by the users choosing to opt out voluntarily.
An HMRC spokesperson issued the following statement: 'The letters are designed specifically to get those using a marketed avoidance scheme to contact us and settle up. We are acting on behalf of the vast majority of people who don't try to get around the rules. We are cracking down hard on tax dodging. '