HMRC and ASA launch new action to disrupt promoters of tax avoidance schemes
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) have launched new action to cut out misleading marketing by promoters of tax avoidance schemes.
The joint enforcement notice aims to disrupt the activity of promoters and protect people from being presented with misleading adverts which may tempt them into tax avoidance.
It requires promoters to be clear about the potential consequences of tax avoidance in any online advertisements. Immediate sanctions include having their paid advertising removed from search engines and follow-up compliance action, which can include referral to Trading Standards.
The action has been launched alongside the HMRC's ‘Tax avoidance: don’t get caught out’ awareness campaign warning and educating contractors about how to identify if they are being offered a tax avoidance scheme, and the pitfalls of using these schemes.
Jesse Norman MP, the financial secretary to the Treasury, said: “The government has made clear its determination to clamp down on the promoters of tax avoidance schemes.
“Today HMRC and the ASA are taking an important further step in this direction by action against misleading advertisements by promoters.
“As always, we would encourage people to pay close attention to HMRC’s warnings not to enter tax avoidance schemes. If it looks too good to be true, it almost certainly is.”
Also commenting on the partnership, Jim Harra, chief executive and first permanent secretary of HMRC, said: “We’re doing our part to close down these schemes and make it difficult for promoters, but we need the public to play their part too.
“You really don’t need to be a tax expert to spot an avoidance scheme – anything that sounds too good to be true almost certainly is, and anything which claims you can take home, say, 90 per cent of your pay, or asks you to sign up to loans from an offshore trust just so you can be paid, is something to steer clear of.
“That’s why we’re starting a big push to encourage taxpayers to steer clear of tax avoidance schemes. This is part of HMRC’s wider work to make it much harder for promoters to operate.”