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Taking Stock: HMRC looks to go viral with tax avoidance pointers

IT’S ALL ABOUT NEW MEDIA these days, and TS couldn’t help but notice HM Revenue & Customs try to get in on the act with its list of ten things tax avoidance promoters won’t tell you.

There are a few basics which help mark it out from the irritatingly-named ‘listicle’ – online, list-based viral content purveyed by Buzzfeed and its ilk.

Firstly, ten is a round number, and the sensational and provocative ‘clickbait’ lists are almost always arbitrary in length. Secondly, it’s not funny – although that could be a lesson learned after the Treasury put its foot in it with its list of perks Scots might expect from remaining in the UK.

Still, HMRC’s list does bear repeating for those not versed in tax avoidance. There’s not enough room here, so here’s a taster:

1. Most schemes don’t work. You may be told that avoidance is legal, but if the scheme doesn’t work you’ll have made an incorrect tax return which is not in accordance with the law. You are legally obliged to pay tax that is due and you may be charged penalties if you try to avoid it.

See? It’s a long way behind ‘Five mathematical bets that will win you free pints in the pub’

TS humbly suggests adding “it’ll be mightily stressful and quite unpleasant as HMRC pursues you” to the list.

And while we’re at it, we at TS are keen to hear your suggestions. Tweet @AATakingStock and/or @AccountancyAge with your suggestions with #HMRCtop10 and we’ll publish the best.

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