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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

HM Revenue & Customs
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Publishing details of deliberate tax defaulters: overview

From 1 April 2010 HMRC may publish a person’s details to identify that person as a deliberate tax defaulter.

To decide whether the law allows us to publish a person’s details, we must consider five questions. In this guidance we call these the publication questions. We can only publish a person’s details if the answer to all five questions is ‘yes’.

We consider the first four questions for each penalty. For all the penalties where the answer to those four questions is ‘yes’ we go on to consider publication question five. 

  The publication questions
1. Is this a relevant penalty?
  A relevant penalty is a penalty for a deliberate, or deliberate and concealed
  • inaccuracy in a return or other document,
  • failure to comply with certain obligations to do something, or
  • VAT or Excise Duty wrongdoing.    
      2. Does this relevant penalty relate to a PDDD period?
        The relevant penalty relates to a PDDD period if the penalty is for
  • an inaccuracy in a return or other document for a tax period beginning on or after 1 April 2010, or
  • a failure or wrongdoing that occurred on or after 1 April 2010.    
      3. Was this relevant penalty found as a consequence of an investigation?
        In this guidance an investigation includes any check by an officer of HMRC into a person’s tax affairs.
  4. Is this relevant penalty a qualifying relevant penalty?  
    In this guidance we use the term ‘qualifying relevant penalties’ to mean relevant penalties on which the maximum reduction has not been given for the quality of disclosure.  
  5. Does the qualifying potential lost revenue (PLR) exceed £25,000?  
    In this guidance, we use the term ‘qualifying PLR’ to mean the total PLR relating to qualifying relevant penalties.  

The compliance officer considers the publication questions. Where the answer to all five publication questions is ‘yes’, and the relevant penalty, or group of relevant penalties have, become final, the compliance officer must refer the case to the specialist team Managing Serious Defaulters Programme (MSD). The MSD team

  • tells the person that their details may be published and gives them time to make representations about why we shouldn’t do so,
  • makes the final decision about whether to publish, and
  • manages the publishing process.

We cannot publish any details until the qualifying relevant penalty becomes final.

There are two time limits.

  • If we decide that we can publish, then we can only first publish the details within 12 months of the relevant penalty becoming final. If there is more than one qualifying relevant penalty the 12 months starts on the date on which all the qualifying relevant penalties have become final.
  • We can only continue to publish these details for a maximum of 12 months from the date of first publication.

The law allows us to publish the minimum amount of information necessary to identify the defaulter and the amount of tax they have evaded.

For further guidance on when to refer a case to MSD, see CH190890 

At CH191350 you can look at a publication case study which brings together most of the core elements of the decision-making process for PDDD and explains how HMRC would apply them.