Many years after tax avoidance ceased to be effective in the UK, a few fly-by-night operatives continue to pedal schemes making false and misleading claims as to the tax savings they offer. The continued existence of this penumbral activity has been extremely useful to HMRC in providing an excuse for the enormous extension of its power to burden the ordinary taxpayer with its enquiries and to undermine the independence of the tax advisory profession by seeking the power to regulate its work.
Our eye was caught by a recent headline, ‘HMRC and the Advertising Standards Authority’. Was the ASA going to clamp down on HMRC’s claims of being helpful to the taxpayer and to the possession of basic competence? No. The ASA is launching a joint initiative with HMRC against ‘misleading marketing by promotors of tax avoidance schemes’.
No-one could object to clamping down on misleading advertising by such promoters but when will HMRC’s own advertisements of its ‘service’ to ‘help’ its ‘customers’ attract the attentions of the ASA?