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Naming and shaming based on Irish scheme

08 July 2009
Issue: 4215 / Categories: News , naming and shaming , Admin
HMRC: addresses will not be published, if possible

The proposed scheme to publish the names of deliberate tax defaulters is based on one that has been operating in Ireland since 1983, according to HMRC.

The information was offered at the June meeting of the consultative committee on the review of the Revenue's powers, deterrents and safeguards.

The Revenue remarked it had liaised with its Irish counterpart in connection with the proposal and had arranged to meet members of Ireland's tax and accountancy institutes.

When asked which other countries operated similar schemes, the department explained that many other countries did not have a publication scheme: such cases are made public because civil penalties are charged by the courts, rather than by the tax authorities.

The committee’s concerns about publishing the addresses of defaulters were brushed aside by the taxman, who said that details would be the minimum necessary to correctly identify a person and avoid confusion. Addresses will be omitted if possible.

HMRC went on to say that as a further safeguard, the taxpayer will be notified in advance of the details to be published and given a reasonable opportunity to make representations to a senior tax officer, independent of the investigation.

The committee asked whether taxpayers subject to a civil penalty will have their details published in the same way as individuals convicted of a criminal offence for tax evasion.

The Revenue replied that provided they made a full disclosure either unprompted or prompted within a time specified by the department, taxpayers subject to a civil penalty will not have their names published.

The committee felt that there should be a right of appeal against the time specified by the taxman for a full disclosure.

Some committee members thought that taxpayers should have a right to appeal to an independent tribunal against a decision to publish details, in addition to being able to appeal against the penalty decision.

Finally, the committee suggested that the publication scheme has been bolted on to the new penalty definitions, which have only started to be used from 1 April.

Given that there is little experience in defining the behaviour that represents a failure to take reasonable care, as opposed to that which is deemed a deliberate inaccuracy, the committee believed that this could lead to more appeals.

HMRC replied that they have already issued extensive guidance on deliberate inaccuracies, but added that they will put in extra checks to ensure behaviours are being correctly identified and applied.

Issue: 4215 / Categories: News , naming and shaming , Admin
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