HMRC v The Rest (including Rangers) – 22 -3 with one score draw


HMRC are successfully cracking down on tax avoidance structures as seen in the results of their 2016/17 tax avoidance cases “season”. If you’ll excuse the continued footballing analogy, their results show that they played 26 “matches”, won 22, lost 3 and one result was a “score draw”. Whilst HMRC’s coach would undoubtedly claim that their team played really well, their results are slightly down on the 2015/16 “season”, where they played 26, won 23 and lost 3. To be fair (not something I’d normally be accused of with HMRC) they’ve had 2 consistently good “seasons” and every prospect of this continuing during 2017/18 and beyond.

To continue the footballing comparison, figures released by HMRC show that they generated a record compliance “profit” last year of almost £29 billion from their anti tax avoidance and evasion campaigns. Apparently this is worth about 25% of the total NHS budget or slightly more than the average premier league club salary bill.

On a more serious note HMRC continue to be successful in most tribunal and court cases involving tax avoidance structures and schemes with the courts being very much minded to try and find an interpretation of the law which sides with HMRC. Only the most optimistic of tax payers would consider entering similar structures in the current environment.

For most historic tax avoidance structures, there have been settlement opportunities offered by HMRC but in the main these have now been withdrawn. Accelerated Payment Notices demanding the payment of the tax due even before a case has been heard by the courts, have been issued for a large number of structures and legislation is imminent which will achieve the taxing of loans from Employee Benefit Trusts by April 2019. For anyone still involved in complex tax avoidance structures it really is the last chance to try and reach agreement with HMRC as they are well set for another good “season” in 2017/18.

As our footballing friend might say – anyone feeling as “sick as a parrot”!

If you are concerned that you have been involved in a tax avoidance structure or would like advice on your tax affairs, contact