HMRC’s list of named tax avoidance schemes, promoters, enablers and suppliers
We highlight HMRC’s list of named tax avoidance schemes, promoters, enablers and suppliers.
In 2021 HMRC ran a consultation ‘Clamping down on promoters of tax avoidance’ which proposed a package of measures to tackle promoters of tax avoidance schemes. We submitted a response, which concentrated on the proposals for measures to support taxpayers in identifying and steering clear of tax avoidance, or to exit tax avoidance schemes.
As the consultation highlighted, promoters of avoidance schemes use advertising and marketing material that focuses on the promised tax benefits of the scheme – but is usually silent about the risks and what will happen if HMRC successfully challenges the scheme. This can leave taxpayers who have entered these schemes with significant tax bills.
The consultation set out the powers HMRC already had to publish information about schemes. However, HMRC’s Spotlights, which usefully highlight schemes that HMRC is considering and has concerns about, do not include scheme or promoter names. Spotlights can be published soon after HMRC identifies the scheme – but it could take much longer for names of promoters and enablers to be published under the DOTAS and POTAS regimes.
Publishing names of promoters and schemes as soon as possible
We supported the proposals in the consultation (subject to safeguards) to allow HMRC to be more transparent at an earlier stage about schemes and promoters it was looking into. Members of professional bodies subject to Professional Conduct in Relation to Taxation (PCRT) are required to advise clients on material uncertainty in the law (including where HMRC takes a different view); therefore, knowing that HMRC was making enquiries into a scheme would be relevant.
Feedback from our members indicated that it would be helpful to know, as soon as possible, that HMRC is actively enquiring into particular schemes and promoters. This would mean that they could explain the possible consequences to clients who have been approached by promoters. The client may not have been given accurate information, and may have been led to believe that HMRC has ‘approved’ the scheme in some way. It would be useful for advisers to be able to point clients to a published statement that HMRC has concerns about a particular scheme and is enquiring into it.
After the consultation, the Finance Act 2022 included the legislation to expand HMRC’s powers to publish details of promoters and avoidance schemes at an earlier stage.
List of named tax avoidance schemes, promoters, enablers and suppliers
The list is published on GOV.UK and is regularly updated.
Under the Finance Act 2022 legislation, HMRC can publish:
- name of scheme
- description of scheme
- details of persons suspected of promoting the scheme, or of being a connected person
- any other information HMRC considers relevant to publish about these schemes to inform taxpayers about the risks associated with the scheme and protect public revenue.
The details can be published at an early stage when HMRC may have limited information, but has a suspicion that a scheme involves tax avoidance. The published information must be amended or withdrawn if it turns out to be incorrect or misleading in a significant respect.
Let us know your views
ICAS responds to many tax calls for evidence and consultations, as well as producing tax policy papers and reports. We also regularly attend meetings with HMRC at which service levels, delays and other issues are discussed, and we raise problems being encountered by members . We welcome input from members to inform our work; email email@example.com to share your insights and feedback.