Tax avoidance going down?
HMRC has announced a fall in the number of declared tax avoidance schemes in the UK. In the six months to September 2013 only 30 schemes were registered, compared with 89 in the same period last year, 151 in the year before that and 607 in 2005.
Arguably, this could be a trend showing the lack of appetite for such standard “off the shelf” planning products as a result of the various actions by HMRC and the media campaign and general public perception on tax avoidance. If this is the case HMRC is having some success.
HMRC does not though have any numbers for bespoke planning eg on company residence, ownership of intellectual property and sourcing of product (as apparently used by Starbucks). If such measures do not require reporting HMRC will have to identify and challenge each company using planning measures, as appropriate. This may well be harder and almost certainly more time consuming than looking at fully disclosed products with a requirement on users for declaration.
Date: 29th November, 2013
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