Guilty until proven innocent

Hillier Hopkins LLP

Chartered Accountants & Tax Advisers

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Taxpayers will be treated as “guilty until proven innocent” as HM Revenue & Customs gets the power to force them to pay up front if officials suspect them of tax avoidance. Under plans announced in the Queen’s Speech, people using tax avoidance schemes will be made to make “accelerated payments” as part of plans to raise around £2 billion.

Our personal tax expert Ian Abrey, has shared his thoughts on the matter

“Any proposal to remove the presumption of innocence in tax cases is another step on a slippery slope towards an over powerful state.  Why should someone who steals from the state as a tax evader be treated differently to a benefits cheat or someone who steals from a shop or from their employer?  The burden of proof should be the same.  The government has already announced plans for “follower notices” which effectively make HM Revenue & Customs judge, jury and executioner in cases where they disagree with the way a taxpayer has completed their return in contentious areas and proposals to give the taxman the right to dip into your bank account.  They now want to introduce a presumption of guilt in more serious criminal cases.”

This issue highlights the need for taxpayers to regularly review their tax position and seek advice from a specialist. An experienced tax adviser can help in a number of ways:

Getting it right – A good tax adviser understands the rules and how to apply them. Helping you to minimise your tax exposure and make the right choices.

Keeping up with changes – The tax system is complex and frequently changing. Your tax adviser should keep you informed and regularly review your situation.

Representing you – Should HMRC challenge you, your tax adviser will be able to mount a case and negotiate with HMRC on your behalf.

Ensuring you have a qualified tax accountant will also help you plan for the future. They will consider your long term goals when giving you any tax planning advice for you or your business.

If alarm bells are ringing when thinking about your current accountant or the simple fact that you don’t have an accountant, please do not hesitate to contact us on 0330 024 3200 or