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Involvement in Tax Avoidance Schemes

What is a tax avoidance scheme?

A tax avoidance scheme is put in place to bend the rules of the tax system, for the purpose of gaining tax advantages for its members. Many people who join a tax avoidance scheme do not realise that they are risking being challenged by HMRC, and will potentially end up paying more back in penalties than they originally planned to save in tax.

How to identify a tax avoidance scheme

There are a range of ways to identify a tax avoidance scheme, including:

  • Huge, unrealistic benefits: a common warning sign of tax avoidance schemes is that the benefits seem to be out of proportion to your investment.
  • A Scheme Reference Number (SRN): if HMRC suspects the scheme as being related to tax avoidance, they will begin an investigation and give the scheme an SRN.
  • Circle scheme: some schemes avoid tax by enabling money to be passed around, and then back to where it started.

Getting out of a tax avoidance scheme

If you’re already a member of a tax avoidance scheme, it’s better to get out early, rather than wait for your tax bill. The sooner you choose to pay the tax owed, the less penalties you’ll need to pay. HMRC encourages anyone who has been involved in a tax avoidance scheme to settle, and has specialist teams on hand to offer advice about what to do next.

The consequences of being involved in a tax avoidance scheme

If you’re found to be involved in a tax avoidance scheme, HMRC will fully investigate your tax affairs, which may be publicised. There’s a good chance you’ll be required to pay the tax you owe upfront. This is called an accelerated payment notice, and usually has a 90 day grace period.

There’s also a good chance that HMRC will begin legal proceedings against you, so it’s essential that you hire a tax solicitor with experience in this field.

Here at DPP Business & Tax, our dedicated team of solicitors are experts in handling these types of cases, and are on hand to provide the legal advice that’s essential for getting the best possible outcome for each of our clients. Contact us today for a free, confidential chat about your next steps.

 

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