Clampdown on tax avoidance boosts Harrogate business

Independent Tax and Forensic Services LLP co-owners Stephen Outhwaite and Gary Brothers. (S)

Independent Tax and Forensic Services LLP co-owners Stephen Outhwaite and Gary Brothers. (S)

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The Government’s ongoing war against tax avoidance – including the creation of a new HMRC taskforce – has boosted business for a specialist Harrogate firm.

Independent Tax and Forensic Services LLP, which is headed up by former tax inspectors Gary Brothers and Stephen Outhwaite, has seen a three-fold rise in the number of clients seeking their expertise and experience.

The company provides specialist tax and risk management advice to more than 140 clients, including well-known names from the world of sport and entertainment.

It is estimated that tax avoidance costs the UK economy more than £19bn a year – equivalent to half the national education budget.

HMRC’s Serial Avoiders Unit has been tasked with identifying users of multiple tax avoidance schemes and offers a “hotline” for people to call who have used multiple schemes and wish to get their tax affairs in order.

At the same time, HMRC has announced details of a new consultation exercise regarding its proposals to get tougher over sanctions against tax avoidance.

Mr Brothers said: “There is a distinct difference between tax avoidance, which is not illegal, and tax evasion, which is.

“However, as result of continual bombardment of ‘taxation’ stories in the press, we have been approached by a rising number of clients who just want resolution after years of uncertainty over schemes they had invested in, which have subsequently been attacked by HMRC.

“The investigation of these products can take many years, and the HMRC juggernaut can be very slow moving. However, our track record and growing reputation show that results can be achieved.”

Mr Outhwaite said: “In addition, HMRC’s approach has been fragmented, with each scheme being looked at by a different team with little overall coordination.

“The biggest frustration we face as advisors is that there has been no one person in HMRC prepared to take responsibility when a client wishes to discuss settling participation in a number of schemes.

“Hopefully, the new Serial Avoiders Unit will assist us in helping such clients resolve their differences with HM Revenue & Customs in a timely manner.”

Last October, Independent Tax and Forensic Services LLP opened an office in London.