HMRC powers could force accountants to disclose client details

The government has put forward new rules that would force accountants to
reveal the names and addresses of clients who take up schemes to avoid paying
the 50% rate of income tax.

HMRC is seeking a ‘new specialist information power’ that would allow it to
demand that accountants release the details of all individuals using such
schemes when the new rate comes into force in April next year.

‘It is one thing to ask accountants to tell them about schemes, but they want
to know who’s using them too,’ John Whiting of the Chartered Institute of
Taxation told the Sunday Times. ‘The Revenue can then see if it is
going to a lot of people and, depending on the sort of people it is going to,
this will help the Revenue decide if they should block it.’

HMRC is currently looking into whether Grant Thornton is marketing a scheme
to bankers and hedge-fund employees to beat the 50% tax rate. The firm has
denied this is the case.

The Revenue is also seeking to extend its powers to collect more information
from letting agents. Currently it can only ask them to disclose landlords that
they currently collect rent from but it wants to add agencies that have
introduced a tenant to a landlord for a fee in the past.

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