Reviewed: 9th February 2016
Accelerated Payment Notices (APNs) have so far enabled HM Revenue & Customs to gather £2 billion for the Treasury since the rules underpinning their use were introduced in 2014.
The notices are designed to enable tax collectors to speed up the process of recovering money they believe to have been improperly sheltered from taxation.
In essence, APNs oblige individuals to pay disputed tax amounts to HMRC upfront while their tax affairs are investigated, rather than giving supposed tax avoiders the opportunity to delay payment by making legal challenges in relation to claims made against them.
Treasury officials have described the introduction of APNs as being a “real game changer” in terms of the way that HMRC aims to tackle tax avoidance in the UK.
HMRC has said that it wins around 80 per cent of all avoidance cases that go to court and suggested that APNs are helping it to significantly reduce the effectiveness of tax avoidance efforts.
David Gauke, financial secretary to the Treasury, said in a statement: “HMRC has taken more than £2 billion from tax-avoiders who would have otherwise benefitted from that cash while they were being investigated.
“It should be absolutely clear to anyone who is tempted by these schemes that tax-avoidance does not pay.”
“It really is time to get out of avoidance – HMRC wins the vast majority of cases that people litigate, with many more settling before litigation,” added Jennie Granger, director general of enforcement and compliance from HMRC.
Close to 3,000 APNs are currently being issued every month by HMRC representatives with over 40,000 notices having been sent out since their use was first introduced.
HMRC has said that it expects to have completed the process of issuing notices to what it views as tax avoiders by the end of 2016, with APNs forecast to have delivered some £5 billion to the Treasury by the first half of 2020.
However, in recent weeks it emerged that thousands of banking and IT contractors from around the UK who received APNs last year could be in line to be repaid money they were ordered to pay in 2015.
Anyone who has received an APN but doubts their validity has been urged to seek expert guidance on the subject before taking further action or making any payments to HMRC.
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