Tax advisers in firing line for hefty avoidance fines

Posted by | August 18, 2016 | News

Advisers and accountants who help clients avoid paying tax could face hefty fines, under fresh rules proposed by HM Treasury.

New proposals could mean advisers have to pay a penalty of up to 100 per cent of the tax owed to HM Revenue & Customs, the financial secretary to the Treasury Jane Ellison announced today (17 August).

The move, which is part of the government’s continued crackdown on tax avoidance, would affect advisers, tax planners and accountants involved in schemes – including those offshore – which are proven in court to be a tax avoidance arrangement.

The proposals aim to make it easier to force firms to pay fines by overhauling the way tax avoiders are judged, making sure proven tax avoiders have taken reasonable care to ensure their tax returns do not contain inaccuracies.

Ms Ellison said the government is acting to make sure tax avoidance is “rooted out at source”, by targeting all those in the supply chain of tax avoidance arrangements.

She said currently those who advised on the avoidance “bear little risk”.

These tough new sanctions will make would-be enablers think twice.
Jane Ellison

Prime minister Theresa May has heralded the fight against tax avoidance, and pledged to clampdown on tax dodgers in her leadership campaign.

The measures are part of a consultation set out by HMRC which is to be published later today.

Ms Ellison said the government is “determined” to make sure people who peddle tax avoidance schemes pay the price.

“The vast majority of their schemes don’t work and can land their users in court facing large tax bills and other costs.

“These tough new sanctions will make would-be enablers think twice and in turn reduce the number of schemes on the market.”

This proposal is the latest move in a string of measures designed to tackle tax avoidance, including sanctions against those who engage in multiple avoidance schemes which are defeated by HMRC.

katherine.denham@ft.com

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