HMRC cracks down on marketing of tax avoidance schemes

01 Dec 2020

HMRC has teamed up with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to act against misleading marketing by promoters of tax avoidance schemes.

A joint enforcement notice aims to disrupt the activity of promoters and protect people from being presented with misleading adverts which may tempt them into tax avoidance.

It requires promoters to be clear about the potential consequences of tax avoidance in any online advertisements. Immediate sanctions include having their paid advertising removed from search engines and follow-up compliance action, which can include a referral to Trading Standards.

It has been published as HMRC launches its 'tax avoidance: don't get caught out' awareness campaign, which educates contractors about how to identify if they are being offered a tax avoidance scheme, and the pitfalls of using these schemes.

Commenting on the action, Jim Harra, Chief Executive and First Permanent Secretary of HMRC, said: 'We're doing our part to close down these schemes and make it difficult for promoters, but we need the public to play their part too.

'You really don't need to be a tax expert to spot an avoidance scheme – anything that sounds too good to be true almost certainly is, and anything which claims you can take home, say, 90% of your pay, or asks you to sign up to loans from an offshore trust just so you can be paid, is something to steer clear of.'

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