HMRC is continuing with its anti-evasion publicity campaign, “closing in on undeclared income”, through targeted advertisements on over 3,000 billboards in public spaces.
The basic poster is perhaps tacky and to some eyes a little sinister in terms of implicit State Surveillance, but clamping down on evasion has got to show the idea is in the right place.
I was delighted to see that the website had a link saying, “Remember you can get independent advice”.
When you click on this however, you get a list consisting of:-
–          Tax Aid
–          Citizens Advice Bureau
–          GOV.UK setting up
–          Business Finance and Support
The latter entry cross refers to getting public finance for business and GOV.UK.  Bearing in mind the problem highlighted in the (inherently unauthorised) use of public finance through not paying tax, it would seem the latter two sources are inherently unsuitable for independent advice on such tax problems!
Further, assuming the tax problem is large enough to make it worthwhile having an expensive, publically funded publicity campaign, the first two organisations are also inappropriate as they focus on small matters and those who cannot afford professional advice.
As an advisor, I am forced to ask, why is there no mention of real independent tax advice, through qualified professionals?  It seems insulting to qualified professional advisors, who seek to act ethically, that they are not mentioned at all as “independent advisors” but obviously rank behind “family and friends” in terms of expertise, according to the GOV.UK article.
Bearing in mind the recent consultation on so-called ‘High Risk Tax Providers‘, it appears that there is a running theme of mistrust of the profession from HMRC which does not bode well for the future of tax advisory work.

HMRC’s crackdown on tax evaders continues. A recent case saw a London barrister being convicted of tax fraud and sentenced to 3 and a half years in prison. HMRC investigators found he had failed to declare or pay over £600,000 of VAT over 12 years.
Mr Pershad’s VAT registration was cancelled by HMRC in 2003 with effect from 1999, after a history of failure to submit tax returns and also not telling HMRC about a change of address. This resulted in him being unable to legally trade above the VAT threshold, which was between £54,000 in 2001 and £67,000 in 2008.
On completion and submission of his self-assessment tax returns, they showed his income had increased from £85,000 in 2001 to £346,000 in 2008, hence breaching the VAT registration limit.
During this time he continued to use his invalid VAT number on invoices, hence collecting the VAT on the fees he charged his clients but keeping the money for himself.
In another case, two businessmen have been jailed for fraud and tax evasion after hiding £500,000 in offshore bank accounts over a 6 year period.
The business men were given the opportunity to disclose their offshore accounts through HM Revenue & Customs’ Offshore Disclosure Facility (ODF). One of the two men did not register for the facility whilst the other only disclosed one of the 12 accounts he controlled.
The men ran a company offering computer technology to the automotive industry, with many of their clients based in Germany. After close inspection, sales in Germany were in the region of £1.26m, while only £49,650 of this money in sales for the same period was declared to HM Revenue & Customs. The balance was divided into offshore accounts of five shell companies registered in Mauritius and the Isle of Man, created solely for the purpose of tax fraud.
The men were jailed for 15 months and 12 months respectively. Confiscation orders were issued under Proceeds of Crime legislation in respect of amounts totaling £500,000 which must be paid within 24 months or the men will be jailed for a further 15 and 12 months respectively.