Adviser slams ‘populist’ HMRC tax avoidance approach

The head of tax advisory at Buckinghamshire wealth manager and accountancy firm Harwood Hutton said the taxman’s approach, and the subsequent increase in judicial reviews against its decisions, showed that it was “desperately attempting to appease the moral crusade” of anti-tax avoidance zealots.

He claimed that until recently, HMRC had applied a reasonable approach to the care and management of the tax system.

However this had now been replaced by a more aggressive “huff, puff and bluff approach”, which his colleague and director of tax at Harwood Hutton, David Whiscombe, claimed has led HMRC to brief journalists against firms who were promoting lawful schemes.

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He added: “If the tax rules do not produce the result wanted by the public, it is for the politicians to change the law.

“It is not for HMRC to bully taxpayers into applying the rules in the way that suits their current interpretation of what the man in the street thinks should be the law.”

Adviser View

Nick Evans, founder of Hertfordshire-based One Life Wealth Planning, said: “It seems that people are frowned upon if they are not paying every single penny of tax due, but these rules on how to minimise paying tax are open to everybody. If they want to clamp down on it the government should change the rules, and not look to penalise a sector of society.”