HMRC demands more than £250m from tax-avoiders

HMRC demands more than £250m from tax-avoiders

More than 600 members of tax avoidance schemes have received notices from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) demanding more than £250 million in unpaid tax.

David Gauke, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, confirmed that over 600 Accelerated Payment notices have been sent to tax avoidance scheme users since late August.

The notices are part of new powers the taxman now has to crackdown on users of deliberate tax avoidance schemes. According to law firm Winckworth Sherwood, the average demand is around £155,000, though in some cases it will exceed £1 million.

Recipients have 90 days to pay the tax demanded by the notices. Some have already approached HMRC with a view to organising payments – so far covering around £25m in disputed taxes. Others have contacted HMRC to settle up without having yet received their notice.

How much tax is owed in total?

HMRC has only made a small dent into its list of tax avoiders to contact: 43,000 tax avoidance scheme users will receive a notice before the end of March 2016.

The notices are expected to prompt the retrieval of £7.1 billion of tax. By January 2015, HMRC will be sending out 2,500 Accelerated Payment notices per month.

Gauke said: "It is only fair that those who use avoidance schemes should have to pay their tax upfront," like most taxpayers who "don't shirk their responsibilities."

Jennie Granger, Director General of Enforcement and Compliance at HMRC said that "good progress" was being made in tackling avoidance. Anyone who is concerned about being able to pay, she continued, "should contact us as soon as possible to discuss their options."

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HMRC demands more than £250m from tax-avoiders

She may have won five Grammys and sold more than 19 million copies of her solo album, but that didn't save her from being jailed for failure to pay her taxes. She was sentenced to three months in jail, then three months confined to her home, for failing to pay tax on £1.2 of earnings between 2005 and 2007.

Hill told the court that she had meant to pay the taxes, but she had withdrawn from public life in order to raise her six children, so had been unable to pay the tax bill. She has since paid the money back, but must still spend three months at Danbury open prison.

Dolce and Gabanna were given jail sentences in June for failing to declare 1 billion euros of income. They were sentenced to a year and eight months in jail, but said they would appeal.

Heidi Fleiss was sentenced in 1997 to seven years in prison for failing to pay tax on profits from the prostitution ring she ran. She eventually served 20 months in jail, and 10 months in a halfway house - and was released in 1999.

Judy Garland was wrong-footed by a tax bill in 1967, she had her home repossessed by the IRS and was forced to live in a hotel. She died two years later.

Richard Hatch is a relatively minor celebrity, but makes the list for sheer stupidity. He was the first winner of Survivor, and its £1 million prize, but failed to declare it to the tax man. He was sentenced to jail and home confinement for more than three years.

The rapper and actor admitted he hadn't paid tax on his earnings between 2004 and 2006. He was ordered to repay $1 million and spend two years in prison. He is actually serving it concurrently with a New York sentence for possession of a weapon.

Lester Piggott was sentenced to three years in jail in 1997, after failing to declare income to the taxman. At the time it was thought to be Britain's longest-ever sentence for personal tax fraud.

Richard Pryor served 10 days in jail in 1974 for failing to pay his taxes. He told the judge that he had simply forgotten about it.

Wesley Snipes owed an impressive $17 million in tax after failing to file returns from 1999 to 2004, and was jailed for three years. On release he still had to pay the cash back.

Sophia Loren was sentenced to 30 days in prison in 1982 for failing to pay tax. She served 17 days in a Naples jail.

Nicholas Cage was never given any jail time, but after failing to pay his taxes, he was ordered to pay more than $14 million in back tax and charges. He blamed his ex-manager and accountant, and has been selling his assets to pay the taxman back.


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