Tax Avoidance Schemes: HMRC attacks, settlement opportunities and criminal investigations




Hilton Manchester Deansgate, 303 Deansgate, M3 4LQ

Over the last 15 years or so, HMRC have adopted a twin-pronged strategy to combat ‘aggressive’ tax avoidance schemes such as employee benefit trusts and film schemes: (i) enquiries, ‘settlement opportunities’ and litigation to prevent existing schemes from achieving the claimed results; and (ii) new legislation to close off opportunities for similar schemes to be used in future.

This event is concerned with the first prong of the strategy. It will consider the dilemma typically faced by the client during an HMRC enquiry: to settle with HMRC on unfavourable terms or to resist HMRC’s attacks on the scheme and appeal to the tax tribunal.

We will also look at why HMRC treat some of these schemes as a criminal investigation – where is the tipping point from Civil to Criminal?

John R. Jones QC will Chair the seminar and discuss two contrasting approaches by HMRC following decisions to charge various investors, intermediaries and scheme developers with criminal offences of conspiracy to cheat and tax evasion. An analysis of these contrasting methods is likely to better prepare those tasked with advising clients who find themselves in such a position.

  • Regina v H, B, S, L and M
  • Regina v RH and others.

George Rowell will discuss the prospects of resisting HMRC’s attacks in light of the key recent case law on film schemes and EBTs:

  • Eclipse Film Partners 35 LLP
  • Degorce
  • Samarkand Film Partnership No 3
  • RFC 2012 Plc (in liquidation) (the “Glasgow Rangers” case)
  • Barker v Baxendale-Walker

Sarah Stenton and Richard Morley of BDO LLP will discuss the practical side of dealing with HMRC when they seek to challenge a tax avoidance scheme:

  • Enquiry and assessment procedure
  • HMRC’s Litigation and Settlement Strategy
  • Formal Settlement Opportunities
  • Next steps if enquiry not settled by agreement
  • Overall assessment of best strategy for client.

Drinks and nibbles will be served after these talks.

To reserve your place, or for more information, please contact Jo Stapley.