HMRC to provide more details of tax avoiders

HMRC is to provide more publicly available data about people involved in tax avoidance schemes, after MPs called for greater transparency about the scale of the issues and the amount of tax at risk

Responding to the recommendations from a report from the Treasury select committee about disputing tax, HMRC said it looks at publishing a summary of the number and characteristics (including sector, income and profile) of people it knows to be involved in tax avoidance schemes, on an annual basis.

The report also challenged HMRC about delays in the operation of the contractor loan settlement opportunity, which the department acknowledged had been a problem.

HMRC said by 5 April over 19,000 people had expressed an interest and provided the information needed to settle their use of disguised remuneration (DR) schemes. The department deployed additional resources to support the settlement process and by 31 August over 99% had received their settlement calculations.

HMRC confirmed that no one who provided the necessary information by 5 April 2019 will be disadvantaged if settlement of their case takes longer as a result of HMRC delay.

It also provided more details about the scale of the issue. Estimates suggest around 50,000 taxpayers who have been involved in DR schemes are affected by the loan charge. Under the DR settlement terms published in November 2017, more than 28,000 scheme users expressed an interest in settling their tax affairs, with over 19,000 returning their settlement packs with the information needed by 5 April 2019.

Since the loan charge was announced at Budget 2016, and up to 30 June 2019, HMRC has agreed around 8,000 settlements with employers and individuals, bringing into charge around £2bn. 

HMRC said it is too early to give the final figure for how many users of DR schemes did not settle, how many of those who need to pay the loan charge have complied with their filing obligations. This information will be included in its next annual report.

As well as indicating it is working with the seven bodies which support the professional conduct in relation to taxation on a revision of the code this autumn, HMRC said it has an extensive programme of improvements for its guidance aimed at helping unrepresented customers in dispute, which included working with bodies such as CIOT.

Treasury sub committee report ‘Disputing Tax’ is here

By Pat Sweet

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