HMRC wants to name and shame tax advisers

The taxman wants to name and shame tax advisers if they help clients duck

Around £25m a year is lost through deliberate contrivance by advisers to
conceal client assets or by other failure to give an accurate picture of the
taxpayers’ circumstances, an HM Revenue & Customs source said.

It will publish the names of people who have evaded more than £25,000 of tax
from April 2011, and
HM Revenue
& Customs
now wants has now wants errant advisers to face the
same fate.

The scheme would be stricter for advisers, in that if found to have acted
improperly, advisers names would be published no matter how small the amount of
tax involved.

“It’s only fair to extend that to advisers and publish their names and
trading addresses,” an HMRC source warned.

The name and shame could be appealed to an independent tribunal, and no
publication would be possible until all appeals opportunities were concluded or

The agent must be notified in advance and given reasonable opportunity to
make representations.

HMRC expects to send the adviser a copy of the details it intends to publish
in advance.

There would also be strict time limits on the name and shame: HMRC must
publish within 12 months of the penalty becoming final and remove material 12
months thereafter.

Anne Redston, visiting professor
at Kings College,
, said that the taxman would have to be “very, very careful”
about the facts surrounding an adviser and their client before naming and

“It all depends on what HMRC has in mind, but they should bear in mind that
an advisers’ reputation could be seriously damaged – we have very strong libel
laws in the UK.”

The publishing of names could only be around tax evasion rather than
avoidance, said Redston, and evasion cases go through the criminal courts and
are already public.

“We have criminal laws against evasion, and HMRC is prepared to use them. If
the [name and shame] is limited to evasion then it’s not really an extension of
the powers they have anyway.”

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