Written by: Keith Tully
Reviewed: Friday 4th May, 2018
HMRC has withdrawn a total of close to 6,000 Accelerated Payment Notices (APNs) in recent years after accepting that they may have been sent in error.
APNs are a controversial HMRC mechanism introduced in 2014 and designed to crack down on tax avoidance by making demands for payments on an upfront basis.
Recipients of APNs are given just 90 days to make payments demanded by HMRC even if there is some dispute about whether or not those monies are rightfully owed as taxes.
A total of nearly 80,000 APNs have been issued by HMRC since it was given the authority to do so in 2014 but a sizable minority of notices are now being successfully disputed and withdrawn.
The law firm RPC has revealed that 6,000 APNs have now been regarded by HMRC as having been issued in error.
According to the Financial Times, APNs are typically withdrawn because HMRC concedes that a tax scheme has been wrongly classified as being used for purposes of tax avoidance.
However, HMRC insists that it continues to pursue outstanding tax amounts highlighted in the details of an APN even after the notices themselves have been withdrawn.
“We have issued over 80,000 accelerated payment notices. Even where we withdraw APNs it doesn’t mean there is no tax to pay. We pursue the outstanding tax until it is paid,” HMRC is quoted as saying.
Meanwhile, Adam Craggs, head of the tax disputes practice at RPC, has said that his firm’s findings will do little to silence critics of the use of APNs as a means of clamping down on tax avoidance.
“Clearly, HMRC doesn’t always get it right, so businesses and individuals who feel they’ve been issued with an APN in error should not simply feel they have to accept it and pay up,” Mr Craggs commented recently.
There was a 20 per cent increase in the number of individuals and businesses making legal challenges to HMRC’s issue of APNs against them during 2017 as compared with the year before.
Taxpayers who receive APNs have 90 days to respond in writing to HMRC to make their case and attempt to explain why they believe their notice was wrongly issued.