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Avoid tax avoidance temptation, HMRC pleads with contractors

Well it sounds like the taxman has tried to finally try politely asking contractors not to use tax avoidance schemes instead of just threatening them for once.

Like the old adage goes, you’ll catch more flies with honey than you will with vinegar. Well, Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs has finally decided to leave off with the old fire and brimstone approach when it comes to tax avoidance and has instead decided to take a more civil approach to discovering contractors from engaging in the practice.

New guidance has been launched by the tax authority with high hopes that it will help freelancers and contractors currently struggling with the temptation of a tax avoidance scheme decide against the practice. It takes a tactful approach by giving individuals ‘helpful advice’ in sussing out whether their chosen tax management scheme is just a thinly-veiled attempt to engage in tax avoidance, including such gems of knowledge as ‘if it looks too good to be true, it most likely is.’

I won’t lie: it’s nice to see HMRC taking a more subtle, less adversarial approach to stamping out tax avoidance by simply coming forward with free information to help people identify and avoid tax avoidance schemes instead of their usual heavy-handed approach, which typically involves threats of massive fines and penalties and even criminal prosecution in some particularly egregious cases. For what it’s worth, the government needs to stop treating us like wayward, recalcitrant children and instead start addressing us as equals, and this is a fine step towards this goal.

Of course, I’m still highly skeptical of whether or not this new tactic will work. Assuredly there are some poor sods that end up sucked into a tax avoidance scheme because they don’t do their due diligence and inadvertently go in on a scheme because they didn’t do a bit of research, but these individuals are few and far between. No, instead I have serious doubts that anyone at one of the biggest perpetrators of tax avoidance – those rich, arrogant bastards at multinational companies such as Amazon, Google, or Starbucks – are going to take this new guidance seriously and leave off their usual tactics of funneling their earnings to an overseas tax shelter, simply because they know that the government is too timid to actually do anything to these large players.

Since when are we held hostage by corporate interests in this country? Apparently for a very long time now.

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