Guidance

Pay the tax you owe - getting out of a tax avoidance scheme

Why you should settle your tax affairs sooner rather later, what could happen if you don’t and how to contact HMRC for help.

If you’re in a tax avoidance scheme don’t wait to receive a tax bill, the sooner you pay the less interest and penalties you’ll owe.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has dedicated teams who can help you in a clear and straightforward way to settle your affairs and won’t charge you for their advice, even if you’ve used several avoidance schemes.

It’s never too late to settle, contact HMRC now to get expert help.

Pay less if you settle early

HMRC has agreed payment arrangements with lots of customers who have genuine difficulty paying what they owe and might be able to help you too. If you’re worried about paying what you owe to get your affairs in order, contact HMRC to find out if you qualify to pay over a period of time.

Contacting HMRC as soon as possible will reduce the interest you have to pay, and HMRC can also reduce any penalties when they receive your full co-operation.

Leaving your tax avoidance scheme before HMRC challenges it in court will also mean you avoid unexpected costs, such as the money the scheme promoter may ask you to pay into a ‘fighting fund’ to help cover their legal costs.

Contact HMRC for help

If you’re already speaking to someone at HMRC about settling, you should contact them.

If you don’t have a contact you should contact HMRC’s dedicated team for help.

Avoid going to court by paying what you owe now

The longer you put off settling and paying the tax due the more you risk court proceedings.

HMRC wins more than 8 out of 10 avoidance cases heard in court and your tax affairs might become public as a result of court proceedings.

You could also face life-changing bills if you lose, with legal costs on top of the tax and interest you owe.

Contact HMRC now to pay what you owe.

Bankruptcy isn’t an easy option

HMRC knows some customers involved in tax avoidance might think about entering an Individual Voluntary Agreement or declaring themselves bankrupt, as a way to avoid paying the tax they owe.

HMRC looks very carefully at all cases where avoidance is at play and will challenge arrangements if it finds assets have been hidden, or transferred before or during proceedings.

Published 29 September 2016