The BIG GROUP (an action group of contractors directly affected by the existing and proposed legislative tax changes) has launched a petition asking that HMRC evidence the existence of an open enquiry before issuing an APN.
As per the petition website:
"This petition is organised by WTTBig Group (http://goo.gl/RK7xXp). This action group represents Contractors who are being pursued by HMRC for alleged retrospective tax liabilities arising from working in a manner that was and remains perfectly legal and was disclosed to HMRC between 2006 and 2010.Those who are affected should sign the petition.
Legislation introduced by Finance Act 2014 allows HMRC to issue a demand (Accelerated Payment Notice) for an amount they, unilaterally, consider to be in dispute but which has not yet been held in a Court to be payable.
These demands are being made five to ten years after the legal arrangements were made. They create significant personal distress, send carefully considered financial plans into disarray and will cause many to declare bankruptcy, leading to loss of family homes, careers and credit rating.
As a minimum, HMRC's obligation is to ensure the demand meets the conditions of, and is compliant with the spirit and letter of, the legislation.
Unfortunately experience shows that HMRC's error rate is unacceptably high.
The first condition for issuing an APN is valid open enquiry into the year in question. Big Group is able to evidence many examples of HMRC issuing these terrifying demands without meeting this first requirement. This event leads to one of two outcomes:
1) The recipient does not know their rights and therefore either makes the payment or is forced into bankruptcy by HMRC's Debt, Management and Banking operation for their inability to pay an amount which is not due.
2) The recipient challenges HMRC's APN following which HMRC fail to respond for as long as six months, leaving months of uncertainty and worry. Again, Big Group is able to evidence this outcome occurring.
This petition is to demand that HMRC qualify any APN's issued by attaching evidence that the year in question is validly opened, with a copy of the S.9A notice sent to the taxpayer for the year in question."
Tax does have to be taxing.
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