Tax avoidance schemes can have significant detrimental impacts on their users, and as HMRC's investigative and punitive powers have increased in recent times, the risks of using them have increased exponentially.
As part of continued action in this area, HMRC and the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) have launched a new joint enforcement notice to cut out misleading marketing by promoters of tax avoidance schemes. The joint enforcement notice aims to disrupt the activity of promoters and protect individuals from being presented with misleading adverts which may tempt them into tax avoidance.
The enforcement notice requires promoters to be clear about the potential consequences of tax avoidance in any online adverts.
Immediate sanctions include having their paid advertising removed from search engines and follow-up compliance action, which can include referral to Trading Standards. The enforcement notice has been published as HMRC launches its 'Tax avoidance: don't get caught out' awareness campaign warning and educating contractors about how to identify if they are being offered a tax avoidance scheme, and the pitfalls of using these schemes.
Jesse Norman MP, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, said:
'The government has made clear its determination to clamp down on the promoters of tax avoidance schemes.'
'Today HMRC and the ASA are taking an important further step in this direction by action against misleading advertisements by promoters.'
'As always, we would encourage people to pay close attention to HMRC's warnings not to enter tax avoidance schemes. If it looks too good to be true, it almost certainly is.'