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HMRC Consults On New Power

by Jason Gorringe,, London

20 December 2006

Proposals on a new information power which aims to counter non-compliance with the tax avoidance scheme disclosure regime by promoters were published in a consultation document by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) on Monday.

Announced in Chancellor Gordon Brown's Pre-Budget Report on 6 December, the proposals would give HMRC power to call for information in cases where there is reasonable evidence of non-compliance with the disclosure regime.

According to the tax authority:

"Although the majority of promoters are applying the rules carefully and properly, a minority are not. HMRC currently has no specific powers to enquire into the failure to disclose a scheme."

The consultation is intended to ensure that the proposed information power will be a proportionate and targeted response to any non-compliance encountered. The power would be exercised via the Special Commissioners.

Paymaster General, Dawn Primarolo, explained that:

"Tax avoidance costs the Exchequer lost revenues each year. It also undermines government public spending objectives and brings unfairness into the tax system itself."

"The Government is determined to adopt a robust approach in countering avoidance."

She concluded:

"This power will benefit the compliant majority by creating a level playing field and is a proportionate response by Government to frustrate those determined to avoid paying their fair share."

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