Tax 

HMRC issues last minute warning over tax avoidance

HMRC issues last minute warning over tax avoidance

HM Revenue and Customs has issued a last minute warning to loan scheme users, reminding them of their obligation to pay the tax owed.

In a statement released today (April 3) HMRC urged users of disguised remuneration schemes to come forward to settle their tax debts by April 5, promising to offer "flexible" payment options to those worried they cannot afford to pay what they owe.

Disguised renumeration schemes involve individuals receiving part of their salary in the form of loans, which were never intended to be repaid.

These loans were not taxed but HMRC is now asking for income tax to be applied to them retrospectively dating back to the 1990s.

HMRC has previously claimed there are about 50,000 people who used disguised renumeration schemes, which it deems to be tax avoidance.

The taxman stated the majority of users will pay less by settling now than if they wait until the loan charge comes into force, urging anybody who wants to settle their taxes to send all the information required to HMRC by the end of this week. 

A charge for those loans will be added on 5 April 2019 unless contractors have come to a settlement arrangement with HMRC, with all outstanding loans added together and taxed as income in one year.

But HMRC has clarified anyone earning less than £50,000 and no longer involved in what it calls tax avoidance can spread their outstanding payments over five years and will not be required to provide detailed supporting information about income and assets.

Anyone earning less than £30,000 can spread the payments over an extended seven years. However, in both cases the taxman has shown willingness to negotiate individual payment plans.

An HMRC spokesperson said the department wants to do all it can to help people get out of avoidance "for good".

He said: "We’re appealing to those who haven’t come forward to settle their disguised remuneration debts to do so now and send us the required information by no later than 5 April.

"If you’re concerned about your ability to pay, it’s still better to contact us now – we have a range of flexible payment options to consider, and no option will require you to sell your main home to pay off your debt."

In February HMRC confirmed its loan charge policy is expected to yield £3.2bn, with private individuals facing a bill of £800m. 

rachel.addison@ft.com