APNs: the next battleground in HMRC's fight to clampdown on HNWI tax avoidance

As a young lawyer I was taught that in tax there was a simple distinction; tax evasion was unlawful, tax avoidance was lawful. Now with a much changed political and economic climate tax avoidance in its various hues is being tackled in a variety of different ways and the concept as to what is lawful and therefore permissible, much stretched.

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Since 2014 a central weapon in HMRC's armoury has been the deployment of accelerated payment notices (APNs). Following service of an APN the tax authority is able to demand repayment of tax where its interpretation of tax legislation differs from the tax payer, prior to any tribunal or court determination.

This powerful weapon is being used in ever greater numbers and in an article published in Wealthbriefing in May 2018 I explored in more depth the role that APNs now have in tax collection and how their use may develop. Additionally the article looked at two recent HMRC consultations which may well signal further development of tax powers, arising in part from a (mistaken) view that the insolvency regime fails to tackle the non-payment of tax.


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