HMRC offers tax avoiders settlement chance

AROUND 16,000 TAX AVOIDERS are to be given the chance to settle their outstanding liabilities with HM Revenue & Customs, the department has confirmed.

On average, each of the users of the contractor loan schemes covered by this settlement opportunity owes £11,000 a year in tax.

The schemes involve complex arrangements with individuals signing a contract of employment with an offshore employer. The contractor then receives their pay through the offshore company or trust as what is claimed to be a non-taxable loan, rather than income.

Users will have until January 2015 to settle their outstanding liabilitiesy. If they do, they will pay the tax and interest due on the sums they received as loans under the scheme.

Jennie Granger, HMRC director-general for enforcement and compliance, said: “Many people regret ever getting involved with complex aggressive tax avoidance schemes and HMRC is providing an opportunity for contractors to come forward and straighten out their tax affairs.

“This is an important opportunity and we are working hard to encourage users to withdraw from such schemes. We also want to ensure they’ve understood our position. They can choose to continue to litigate for a better outcome but they risk a worse result. HMRC has a strong track record of winning tax avoidance cases in court, with around 80% of decisions in our favour. The costs for users are high, potentially resulting in penalties, charges and significant legal costs for scheme users.”

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