Written by: Keith Tully
Published: 18th April 2017
Accelerated Payment Notices (APNs) sent by HM Revenue & Customs resulted in the payment of close to a billion pounds by big companies from across the UK over the course of the year to April 2016.
That’s according to the law firm Pinsent Masons, which estimates that large businesses accounted for around 40 per cent of all payments made in response to HMRC-issued APNs during the most recently assessed tax year.
Sums totalling around £943 million are understood to have been collected from big British companies via APNs during the relevant period.
APNs are a somewhat controversial but seemingly very effectively means of prompting payments of disputed tax amounts from UK businesses.
HMRC has already collected several billion pounds through these mechanisms since they were first introduced in 2014.
The notices inform recipients that they have 90 days to make payments in relation to disputed tax amounts in full, with no right of appeal afforded.
The introduction of APNs has left users of some tax planning strategies, which include businesses of various sizes and self-employed individuals, facing urgent demands for significant sums of money.
According to the Financial Times, Pinsent Masons has been surprised by the amounts of money collected via APNs in the 2016 tax year and is convinced that HMRC considers these notices to be an important tool at its disposal in pursuit of tax amounts from large companies.
“We are clear that large businesses must pay the tax that is due. Everyone must play by the same rules,” an HMRC spokesperson has said on the subject.
“We continue to ensure that tax payments genuinely reflect companies’ economic activity, with two-thirds of the 800 largest and most complex businesses operating in the UK under enquiry by HMRC at any one time,” they added.
APNs were first issued in August 2014 and around 36,000 were sent out to individuals and businesses during the 12 months to April 2016, according to HMRC’s own figures.
A total of close to £2.4 billion was raised through the use of APNs in the 2016 tax year, which represented a notable increase on the previous year when roughly £800 million was raised by HMRC in the same way.