Ms Ciniewicz added HMRC was very aware of the need to increase the public’s awareness of the dangers of getting involved in avoidance, stressing that the message remained “if it looked too good to be true, then it probably was”.
The loan charge has come under controversy from MPs, lobby groups and professional bodies as it left many with crippling tax bills and HMRC has reported itself to the police watchdog four times over the deaths of individuals who had been notified of a loan charge bill since it came into effect.
Asked whether HMRC was taking enough measures to prevent further tragedies in today’s hearing, Jim Harra, interim chief executive and permanent secretary at HMRC, said the government agency had “clear policies” in place for any customer who showed signs of distress.
He added: “Clearly we don’t want anyone to harm themselves or feel mental anguish and we recognise this can be a stressful situation.
“We train our front line staff to recognise those signs and we’ve taken extra steps in the counter avoidance space to do that, including putting in place a network of support specialists who can give extra help.”
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