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Taxman sends out accelerated payment demands to contractors

Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs has sent out the first round of accelerated payment demands out to freelancers, contractors, and anyone else they want to harass.

No one is particularly happy about the move, but the tax authority can now take up-front payments from anyone who might have sunk some cash into a tax planning measure that’s being investigated for being a tax avoidance scheme. Whilst this is a great initiative to catch those high-powered corporate bastards that like to funnel their cash overseas under the cover of darkness – I mean who doesn’t like a little justice served up to people who think they’re above the law? – but the bad news is that the accelerated payment initiative also applies to everyone, and that includes contract workers who get caught up in the furore.

If you’re one of the poor blokes that’s been slapped with one of these notices, you’ve got 90 days to pay up before you start being subject to fixed penalties for late payment. HMRC hopes to collect more than £7 billion in unpaid taxes, and plans on sending out notices to around 10,000 firms and 33,000 individuals – many of which are likely to be self-employed Brits.

I don’t know exactly how I feel about this. People shouldn’t be expected to get away with murder when it comes to paying their fair share of taxes, but at the same time it seems like the taxman is jumping the gun by expecting payment from people before actually making a final determination as to whether or not a tax planning measure someone used is definitely a tax avoidance scheme. Not only that but for what it’s worth I’d like to make sure that people are given the benefit of the doubt – if they’re misled by their accountants or simply make an honest mistake I feel there should be some leniency involved. This goes double if the person in question isn’t in the higher tax bracket. I know that sounds a bit Socialist to some people but let’s face it: the people most likely to use tax avoidance schemes on purpose are those with more money than they know what to do with – and who tend to be greedy little bastards to bood!

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