HMRC tax avoidance demands reach £250m

HM Revenue and Customs has sent notices to tax avoidance scheme users to pay more than £250m of disputed tax under the ‘accelerated payments’ regime introduced in this year’s Finance Act.

Despite recipients having 90 days to pay the tax demanded in the notices, avoidance scheme users have already begun to contact HMRC and to arrange to make payments, covering about £25m of disputed tax.

The government added more users are getting in contact to settle their tax affairs rather than waiting to receive an accelerated payment notice.

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David Gauke, the financial secretary to HM Treasury, yesterday (21 October) told MPs scrutinising the National Insurance Contributions Bill that more than 600 accelerated payment notices had been sent since late August.

He added: “Accelerated payments are changing the economics of avoidance by removing the cash-flow advantage that avoidance scheme users have had until now.

“It is only fair that those who use avoidance schemes should have to pay their tax upfront, like the vast majority of other taxpayers who don’t try to shirk their responsibilities.”

By January 2015, HMRC will be issuing 2,500 accelerated payment notices per month and by the end of March 2016 it should have delivered notices to 43,000 tax avoidance scheme users, covering £7.1bn of disputed tax.