HM Revenue & Customs has pologised for any misunderstanding created by an
advert depicting a plumber hiding under the sink from the taxman.
HMRC is facing a potential investigation by the Advertising Standards
Authority over the advert, which has prompted complaints from the Federation of
Small Businesses that it tars all self-employed individuals with the same
‘We did not intend to target any particular section of the small business
community in the advertisements,’ a spokesman for HMRC said.
The ad, which appeared in national newspapers in December, featured a plumber
hiding underneath a sink with the tagline: ‘With your help, we’ll make sure self
employed people, who don’t pay their tax, have nowhere to hide.’
The FSB complained the ad was ‘offensive’ and ‘implied that self-employed
people do not pay taxes’.
HMRC said: ‘This advertisement [is] aimed squarely at the non-compliant
minority, and we are not in any way suggesting that all or even most small
businesses fall into this category. We are sorry if the intention behind the
advertisement has been misinterpreted in any way.’
The ASA will now consider whether to investigate the advert.
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