HMRC has just published full details of its plans to impose fines of up to £1m on tax planning companies that fail to declare on their websites that the Revenue is monitoring them.
The move is unlikely to have any effect on independent professionals conducting their contracting careers through Revenue-compliant Umbrella Companies, as they pay all their due tax and NICs routinely on a PAYE basis; however, the net is certainly tightening to an unprecedented degree around those who seek to dodge tax on their self-employed incomes.
Tax planning companies that have come to HMRC’s attention can now be forced to state on their websites that they are being monitored by the Revenue and may also be obliged to include a message in their marketing material and other communications to all current and prospective clients. Failure to do so may result in fines as high as £1m.
It will also become a criminal offence for tax planners to dispose of any relevant documents.
Ray McCann, a partner at the international law firm Pinsent Masons, said that the Revenue was seeking to drive tax avoidance schemes out of business and had scored some significant victories in this battle to date. He continued: “£1m fines are a sudden and unprecedented escalation of the sanctions that HMRC have against promoters of tax planning schemes and again makes clear the determination of the government to prevent abusive tax schemes. These rules will very publicly stigmatise these tax advisers and mean that they will struggle to win new clients and carry on in business.”