Here’s where you’ll find articles on some of the issues you may be experiencing – if you can’t find the information you’re looking for, do get in touch to see if we can help…

Dealing with HMRC, Disclosures, Tax investigation

Do your clients mix business with pleasure?

If a business owner is on holiday but working is it an allowable tax deduction and what happens if HMRC investigate?

Dealing with HMRC, Tax investigation

No invoice. No tax deduction.

For HMRC and their advisors, every tax investigation and case is different and its outcome directly dependant on all the relevant facts. Find out how you can still get a tax deduction from HMRC for an invoice you may not have.

Blog, Dealing with HMRC

What does HMRC mean when they say your client’s behaviour has been deliberate and concealed?

The level of HMRC tax geared penalty will depend upon a taxpayer’s behaviour that brought about that loss of tax in the first place. But, how do you establish a taxpayers behaviour?

Dealing with HMRC

What is a “formal information request” from HMRC?

Knowing whether a request from HMRC is a formal information request or an informal request should impact how a taxpayer deals with the request and the outcome.

Tax evasion

How does HMRC calculate the level of penalties to be charged to your client?

There are two types of penalties - those that are fixed and those that are tax geared. But did you know your client's behaviour will affect the level of tax geared penalties they have to pay?

Blog, Tax avoidance

Do your clients have any skeletons in the cupboard to clear out prior to selling their business?

Many business owners have skeletons in the cupboard that could be a big hurdle to either selling their business or achieving their desired sale value. But how do you overcome them?

Tax investigation

Why is HMRC so interested in your client’s hobbies?

How do your clients separate their personal and business lives. Do they put things 'through the company' that relate to their or their family's hobbies?

Tax avoidance

The Pandora Papers are back – and with a vengeance

You may recall ‘The Pandora Papers’ back in 2021 and may have assumed that issues around these have been resolved or ‘gone away’.  Wrong! Find out more about what this means for your clients.

HMRC nudge letters

Residency position on tax returns

HMRC are wanting taxpayers to review their residency position before they submit their tax returns, or to undertake a “repair” if they have already done so.

HMRC nudge letters

High Income Child Benefit Charge (HICBC) – Happy tax season from HMRC!

HMRC are writing to agents to remind them of the Tax Return entries relating to the High Income Child Benefit Charge (HICBC).

Tax avoidance

What is the difference between CoP8 and CoP9 so far as your client is concerned?

The difference between CoP8 and CoP9 can be confusing for both a taxpayer and their accountant. Find out what the difference is here.

Tax disputes, Tax evasion

What questions will HMRC ask your client?

How a taxpayer answers HMRC questions, can have a huge impact on the outcome of an investigation. HMRC will ask a number of probing questions at a meeting. It's imperative to know when NOT to answer a question and HOW to answer a question.

Tax evasion

What does the offer of the Contractual Disclosure Facility (the CDF) mean for your client?

The CDF ican only be used if your client is prepared to admit to having committed tax fraud. Find out more about the CDF here.
HMRC Documents

Tax disputes

Does your client have to provide HMRC with documentation?

Clients and taxpayers may be nervous about handing over documents to HMRC. Will they explain everything, or will it just provoke even more questions?
HMRC Nudge Letters

HMRC nudge letters, Tax avoidance

How much nudging is going on?

HMRC have issued their figures on the amount of nudge letters they are sending to taxpayers and the criminal cases underway.


How does your client make a Disclosure to HMRC?

Find out how a voluntary disclosure to HMRC can help you when dealing with unresolved tax issues and potentially reduce penalties.

Tax disputes, Tax evasion

Increased HMRC activity around investing or trading in property

It is important for tax purposes to establish from the outset whether taxpayers are investing in property or trading in property as the tax treatment can vary significantly.

Tax avoidance

Do you remember APNs?

Many taxpayers have misunderstood in the past that when they paid APNs, they were not reaching a Settlement with HMRC. Could you be facing a huge bill?

Tax evasion

HMRC asks about your income from short-term property letting

Yet another nudge letter has been sent out recently by HMRC which some taxpayers should not ignore.  There will be some taxpayers who may be in a position to rent a whole house out but others may only be able to let out a single room.

Case studies, Tax avoidance, Tax disputes, Tax evasion

Wanting to sell your business? Beware of the taxman!

You have worked all your life to build up a successful business and now its time to cash it all in and sell up.  You have found a buyer and they are willing to pay the full asking price, no quibbles.  So why should you beware of the taxman?

Tax disputes


A taxpayer’s financial affairs can be complicated.  But HMRC can ask a never ending stream of questions that can make no sense, or seem to be irrelevant or ask the same question but in a slightly different way.  Enough!

Tax avoidance

Beware – Loan Charge discovery letters are on the way!

HMRC are issuing Loan Charge discovery letters to a number of taxpayers still directly affected by the Loan Charge and who received remuneration by way of loans. If you or your clients receive one of these letters, read on to find out more and how you should deal with them.

Tax evasion

Latest on UK customers of the Euro Pacific Bank

HMRC are investigating UK taxpayers “connected” to Euro Pacific Bank on the basis that they are suspected of evading UK taxes and associated money laundering offences.

Tax avoidance

Has a tax scheme promoter left you high and dry? 

Saving tax for clients has always been a major objective for many accountants and other trusted advisors.  And, for many years, accountants and other advisors introduced their clients to a tax scheme promoter who sold various structures both offshore and onshore.

HMRC nudge letters, Tax avoidance, Tax disputes

HMRC issue 177,000 “nudge letters” in order to tax offshore income or gains

According to City AM, HMRC continue to pursue non compliant UK taxpayers by issuing nudge letters.  As previously covered,  HMRC's use of nudge letters is a cost efficient way of recouping tax for the Exchequer without the need to launch a tax investigation into a taxpayer's past tax compliance.  But beware, there are risks for both taxpayer and adviser alike.

Tax avoidance

Exiting Remuneration Trusts can be tricky

Exiting Remuneration Trusts raise a number of issues that need to be addressed.  Finding a tax solution (particularly one that is acceptable!) may have become easier for some with HMRC's new Settlement Terms recently announced.

Tax avoidance

HMRC offer a new Settlement Opportunity for Remuneration Trusts

There is no doubt that tax avoidance evolved over the years.  I first came across tax schemes in the 1990's when there were more "simple" schemes such as investments in platinum sponge and alike.  Then they progressed to Employee Benefit Trusts and Remuneration Trusts through which owners of businesses were given interest free loans

Tax disputes

Is now the time to push for a Settlement?

January is a funny month.  The festive celebrations have been and gone.  A lot of taxpayers turn to filing their Self Assessment Tax Return by the end of the month.  Others are simply looking backwards and forwards and thinking how are they going to fair in 2022.  So why is now possibly a good time to push for a Settlement if you are under a tax investigation?

Tax avoidance, Tax disputes, Tax evasion

What will HMRC be sending you for Christmas this year?

For many taxpayers, a brown envelope from HMRC will not be well received at any time of the year.  Odds on it will contain bad news.  It may be the start of an investigation.  It may be a "nudge letter" or a "Check on tax position".  It almost certainly won't be a Christmas card!

Tax avoidance, Tax evasion

HMRC use information received under the Common Reporting Standard to identify those ignoring the Loan Charge

HMRC are writing to taxpayers that have outstanding loans from their EBTs, EFRBs and other offshore structures.  HMRC use information received under the Common Reporting Standard to identify those ignoring the Loan Charge.  The origins of some of these arrangements go back to the 1990's and have been "forgotten" - that is until now.

Tax avoidance, Tax evasion

About your offshore income and gains … … …

HMRC are pretty good at grabbing people's attention by using such headings in their letters to taxpayers.  Such letters are often effective because their "intelligence sources" are pretty accurate.  I have seen letters in the past where HMRC have even quoted bank account numbers from the outset just to demonstrate how much detail they had at the time.  All targeting offshore income and gains.
Bearded man holding his head in his hand

Tax disputes

Are you resolving the issue with HMRC or just kicking the can down the road?

For some, kicking the can into the long grass might be even more preferable.  Either way, when the time actually comes to resolving the matter, it will almost certainly be more expensive.  And perhaps all you have had in between times is depression and sleepless nights.
misrepresentation of the true nature of events

Tax avoidance, Tax evasion

HMRC views some tax avoidance schemes as a “misrepresentation of the true nature of events”

According to HMRC, the fine line between tax avoidance and tax evasion has been crossed and deliberately so.  HMRC's unit known as Offshore Corporate and Wealthy (OCW) was established in the wake of the ‘Panama Papers’ scandal in 2016 to investigate serious non-compliance by businesses and the wealthiest taxpayers

Tax evasion

It’s alright, it’s tax free!

They say that a little knowledge can be dangerous.  Likewise, being self taught off the internet can cause unexpected tax problems.  A lot of taxpayers around the work want to be able to say "it's tax free".

Tax evasion

It’s no secret – it’s just none of your business!

So we have now had another chapter of the saga of secret bank accounts with the Pandora Papers.   Just like their forerunners, it makes interesting reading - but so what.  The "offshore world" exists because of demand - the demand for discretion and privacy.  It's no secret, it's just none of your business!

Tax avoidance

HMRC settlement opportunity for Eclipse Film Partnership members

The Eclipse Film Partners (numbers 1 to 40) Limited Liability Partnerships (Eclipse LLPs) were complex financial arrangements and a form of tax avoidance.  Through their "investment", taxpayers aimed to generate large interest payments on bank borrowings, presented as contributions to the capital of the Eclipse Film Partnership, so they could buy film rights.  HMRC did not accept the borrowings for the "investment" were real.

Tax avoidance, Tax evasion

Offshore does not mean off HMRC’s radar

The fact a taxpayer has an offshore bank account or an offshore trust or offshore anything can raise or add to the concerns of HMRC.  Not so much as "what is there to hide" but more the fact that its not so transparent compared to being on the mainland UK.

Tax avoidance, Tax disputes, Tax evasion

Is HMRC challenging you?

HMRC holds a wealth of information on all taxpayers.  Not surprisingly though, from time to time HMRC can come across information on a taxpayer that they did not expect.  You may think that you have disclosed everything but now HMRC is challenging you and want to investigate your tax affairs.
Failing to prepare

Tax disputes, Tax evasion

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail

Some of you may recognise this as a quote from Benjamin Franklin. In my world it is a very true statement and I take time to explain its importance to others particularly in relation to failing to prepare for meetings with HMRC.
Who is in charge of your tax investigation

Tax avoidance, Tax disputes, Tax evasion

Who is in charge of your tax investigation or is it meandering out of control?

So many times I hear the answer back "HMRC is in charge of course!"  Perhaps the question is more "Who should be in charge of your tax investigation".  Either way, the answer should be firstly the adviser is in charge and secondly the taxpayer.  Otherwise your tax investigation can meander out of control.

Tax avoidance, Tax disputes

GSOPs and CFDs – HMRC offer an opportunity to reach a Settlement

GSOPs and CFDs were mechanisms designed to reward Directors and key employees in return for achieving specific targets.  The promoters argue that any payments out to an individual under a GSOP or CDF were subject to Capital Gains Tax (CGT).

Tax evasion

Is confusion and misunderstanding the same as tax fraud?

Running a business is not always easy no matter how many staff you employ or what procedures you have in place.  When there is too much to be done in the time and within the resources available, confusion and misunderstandings can easily occur.  The result is inevitably mistakes.  Or was it deliberate?  Is it tax fraud?

Tax avoidance, Tax disputes

The legacies of tax avoidance schemes

As the passage of time has shown, participating in tax avoidance schemes is not for the faint hearted.  "I wish I had never done that" I hear regularly. Some taxpayers may only participated perhaps once or twice in whatever scheme it is but they have been in a nightmare ever since.  And that goes for the advisers too!
provide HMRC with documents

Tax evasion

Having invested in the company, you then discover tax fraud

Unfortunately, this nightmare scenario is not uncommon.  No matter how much due diligence is undertaken, a fraud can be very sophisticated and may only surface after certain people have left.  Often the fraud includes the Managing Director and other key employees, all of whom have now left.

Tax avoidance

Is HMRC stopping you from passing on your business?

The family has worked hard all their lives to create the family business it is today.  Retirement may beckon in sunnier climes but all that is being prevented by HMRC.  Why - because some years ago the company chose to reward its key employees by participating in a tax avoidance scheme.

Tax avoidance, Tax disputes, Tax evasion

Can HMRC ask for that?

Yes - is the simple answer!  But perhaps the question really should have been "Are HMRC entitled to have access to that?"  Anyone can ask for anything.  But can HMRC have access to that information?  The information may be sensitive.  Asking is one thing - giving is another.

Tax evasion

Don’t underestimate the ingenuity of HMRC

Two taxpayers in business together almost came a cropper with HMRC.  HMRC raised a valid enquiry into their personal tax affairs issuing Code of Practice 9 (Cases of  suspected serious fraud).  All perfectly normal - in my world anyway!  My clients had ignored my warning - don't underestimate the ingenuity of HMRC
Hidden overseas assets

Tax evasion

Your overseas assets, income and gains

This is the heading of the latest nudge letter from HMRC.  Quite a snappy title and attracts most people's attention to get them to read on further.  But then how does HMRC know that you have any overseas assets?  Or overseas income?  Or overseas gains?

Tax disputes, Tax evasion

Signs that your tax investigation is about to get worse

Sadly I do not possess a magic wand.  But I do know some of the tell tale signs that your tax investigation is about to get worse.  These are some of the tell take signs.

Tax avoidance

The forgotten liabilities of tax avoidance schemes

Tax avoidance has been around now for 30 years.  In all that time, some taxpayers have chosen to settle with HMRC, others have not.  Over time, these can become forgotten liabilities. For those who have not settled, where does this leave us today?

Tax avoidance, Tax evasion

Are you drowning under your tax investigation?

One of the symptoms of a tax investigation is the feeling that no matter what you do or say, you feel like you are drowning under the tax investigation.  You need to treat the cause, not the symptom.  You may need help to understand the cause but who do you turn to
Undeclared income

Tax disputes

6 questions that need to be answered about a tax investigation

A tax investigation is rarely welcome.  Like other intrusions, they happen just at the wrong time.  Its unlikely that anyone is prepared for the torrent of questions and the negative impact it can have on business and home life.  So what questions should be answered at the outset?

Tax avoidance

HMRC wants to talk about reaching a Settlement

Being challenged by HMRC can be a major distraction to any taxpayer.  It can impact on life both at work and at home.  It is therefore often uppermost in any taxpayer's mind to seek a Settlement as soon as possible.  Then they can get on with their lives.

Tax avoidance

Where’s the Trust gone?

In what sometimes I can only see as a bid to try and outmanoeuvre HMRC, a Trust can be moved around the world.  Some might say that having travelled from Hong Kong in the East to Grand Cayman in the west that I have travelled a few miles on business.  But why do Trusts seem to move a similar distance between say the Channel Islands, the Mediterranean and the Caribbean

Tax avoidance, Tax disputes, Tax evasion

Has your tax investigation gone past its sell-by date and gone stale?

We can all look forward to our favourite treat only to be disappointed that is has gone stale.  Imagine how HMRC must feel when they are told a tax investigation has gone stale and the tax is no longer due. Well, both can happen and both do happen.

Tax evasion

HMRC are looking for your overseas assets, income or gains

In March 2021, another round of nudge letters have been issued.  This time they are following up on the information they have been supplied under the Common Reporting Standard (CRS).  Other than saying "we have information ... ... ...", HMRC don't tell you what they know or rather suspect.  Yes HMRC has information on overseas assets - but is simple ownership leading to a tax liability?

Tax avoidance, Tax evasion

Notices to provide documentation – whatever you do, don’t destroy it!

HMRC regularly obtain information and documentation from a number of sources.  More recently this is under the Common Reporting Standard (CRS).  But HMRC's thirst for more and more can lead to HMRC issuing Notices to provide documentation under Schedule 36 Finance Act 2008.  The worst thing that can happen is the documentation is now destroyed.  This can lead to a fine or worst still, imprisonment.

Tax avoidance

HMRC to undertake increased compliance activity on disguised remuneration

Some employers and individuals can expect contact from HMRC regarding the Loan Charge.  Employers should have reported and paid the Loan Charge by now.  According to HMRC, there are "number of those have not yet done so".  I am not at all surprised by this for a number of reasons.  Whether its called Disguised Remuneration or the Loan Charge, its not going to go away.
tax evasion

Tax evasion

HMRC thoughts on tax evasion – is the answer 42 or 0?

No, I haven't gone mad.  A client has spent a lot of time and energy recounting what he had done over the years.   But it didn't add up - literally.  It didn't explain why HMRC was accusing him of tax evasion.  Nor did it explain why HMRC had issued him with Code of Practice 9 and invited him to join the Contractual Disclosure Facility (CDF)

Tax avoidance, Tax evasion

Remuneration Trusts, EBTs etc. – tax avoidance or tax evasion?

The tax avoidance market has changed quite prodigiously in more recent times.  Some of these schemes go back to the mid 1990's and yet they may still be in dispute with HMRC.  All of these tax avoidance schemes set out to reward key employees with little (tax) cost often by way of loans.


Furlough fraud – 1,000 Inspectors with £100m of funding

The Budget delivered on 3 March 2021 may be seen by some as uneventful.  Some good news was the fact that the Furlough scheme has been extended again until the end of September 2021 - but with a potential sting in the tail
Ticking clock


EBT refunds – the clock is ticking

Anyone who has used a tax avoidance scheme that falls under the heading of Disguised Remuneration between 6 April 1999 and 5 April 2016 may now be entitled to EBT refunds.  HMRC are refunding PAYE and NIC to companies who have settled on the basis of Voluntary Restitution

Blog, Tax disputes

Another little nudge letter – this time on ATED

HMRC are seeking Annual Tax on Enveloped Dwellings (ATED) charges from Non Natural Persons or typically offshore structures such as companies and trusts.  ATED returns are required even if the taxpayer wishes to claim an exemption from the tax charge.


Do you have anything to disclose?

A simple question but if it is answered the wrong way, it can have a devastating effect.  "Do you have anything to disclose?" is a question that is regularly asked by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) at the outset of an investigation


The “too difficult” category

Most people have consciously moved a particular task into the "too difficult" category.  It is worrying how many times a "too difficult" task results in some form of UK tax irregularity.  Examples can ultimately include the lack of an up to date Tax Return for an individual, partnership, limited liability partnership or company.  But that is not how it all starts.


Accidental tax fraud

There are many definitions of tax fraud - the working definition I use is "the intention to deceive".  HMRC have their own view on life and as such, HMRC does not accept that a taxpayer can commit accidental tax fraud.  Moreover, HMRC consider any form of tax fraud to be deliberate behaviour.

Tax disputes

Loan Charge – what is a loan?

HMRC continue to pursue taxpayers who have received loans back from either in lieu of earnings of typically a contractor or back from an Employee Benefit Trust (EBT).  The Loan Charge was effective from 30 September 2020 by which time HMRC were to be notified of all such loans and tax paid on them under the Disguised Remuneration rules.  But for some, the issue has become what is a loan?

Tax disputes

HMRC issue latest round of “nudge letters”

Periodically HMRC issue "nudge letters" to taxpayers as a means of persuading them to reconsider their past UK tax compliance. The content of such letters is based on information already received by HMRC form any of its numerous sources including under the Common Reporting Standard (CRS).
Preferred creditor status

Tax disputes

HMRC have their preferential debt status returned to them

As part of Under the Finance Act 2020, the Treasury drafted the Insolvency Act 1986 (HMRC Debts: Priority on Insolvency) Regulations 2020 (the Regulations). In short, HMRC have their preferential debt status returned to them.
money pink coins pig

Tax disputes

What HMRC giveth in 2020, will HMRC taketh away in 2021?

As part of the UK government's support to the economy in 2020 in response to the pandemic, exceptionally HMRC have been making payments to taxpayers rather than collecting tax payments from taxpayers. Clearly, this cannot continue indefinitely.