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HMRC should drop the witch hunt on tax planning

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With HMRC writing to people using certain tax avoidance schemes, offering them the chance to settle their tax liabilities or face litigation, members of the UK200Group of independent accountancy and lawyer firms have commented on whether this is the best approach.

Cormac Marum, former inspector of taxes, and now head of tax advisory at UK200Group member firm Harwood Hutton

“Nobody needs to settle with HMRC if they have undertaken tax planning which is consistent with the law of the land. If they followed competent professional advice when entering these arrangements, most of the recipients of these HMRC letters are likely to fall within this category. 

“HMRC has got a massive backlog of ‘tax avoidance’ cases they will never win. They should drop the witch-hunt against those who have obeyed the law and concentrate on using the mass of information recently received to catch those criminals guilty of tax evasion.”

David Ingall, consultant, UK200Group member firm JWPCreers

“This is a game of poker, with high stakes. HMRC has not been able to upset these schemes, so it is reverting to harassment. Have these wealthy people got the nerve to stare HMRC down? Has HMRC got the law behind it to defeat these schemes? Who knows? But it is worrying that HMRC is resorting to threats to get its way.”

Doug Sinclair, Head of Tax Investigations at UK200Group member firm Berg Kaprow Lewis

"HMRC should be applauded in seeking ways to speed up disputes involving avoidance cases. However, there needs to be a sufficient incentive for individuals to accept the settlement terms as opposed to waiting for the case to be litigated. This could, and probably should, include a zero penalty and favourable payment terms for anyone accepting HMRC's offer of settling.""A vast number of avoidance cases are very old and individuals who are offered this opportunity may wish to consider whether HMRC can legitimately pursue taxes which may be out of time to assess and collect."

Established in 1986, UK200Group is the leading mutual professional association in the UK with some 150 offices of quality-assured member accountancy and lawyer firms throughout the UK totalling over 550 partners, 150,000 business clients and global links in over 50 countries. UK200Group provide services and products that are designed to enhance the business performance of its members.  Telephone 01252 401050, email or visit 


UK200Group is an association of separate and independently owned and managed accountancy firms and lawyer firms. UK200Group does not provide client services and it does not accept responsibility or liability for the acts or omissions of its members.  Likewise, the members of UK200Group are separate and independent legal entities, and as such each has no responsibility or liability for the acts or omissions of other members.

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