Steering clear of HMRC’s naming and shaming

 

HMRC now have the power to publish the names and addresses of taxpayers who have undergone a tax enquiry resulting in additional tax payable of £25,000.

 

It applies where the tax arises from ‘deliberate’ errors (rather than carelessness), so we can expect Inspectors of Taxes to argue that errors were indeed deliberate. Allegations of deliberate errors require a higher level of proof and should be challenged.

 

‘Naming and shaming’ applies to periods starting on or after 1 April 2010. Except in the case of VAT returns, it would seem a bit early for HMRC to be brandishing this most potent of weapons in front of taxpayers. Yet it seems that HMRC is already starting to refer to its new powers in its enquiries into earlier years. Surely this is not an attempt to intimidate taxpayers, is it?

 

In years to come, we can expect to see naming and shaming stories in the local press, giving details of the individuals, businesses and the amounts of tax involved. Clients with poor records or those who wish to ‘take a flier’ need to be aware of the risk.