HMRC adds Marquee Ltd and Acacia Resourcing Services Ltd to its list of avoidance ‘wrong’uns’

‘Be careful or ask experts if in doubt’ is the call to contractors in wake of HMRC making two additions to its avoidance blacklist -- Marquee Ltd and Acacia Resourcing Services Ltd.

Registered to Manchester, Acacia gets users to sign an employment contract and, in a second bid to look like a genuine umbrella company, it pays the NMW, observes Dolan Accountancy.

'Two schemes operated in similar ways'

But 15% margin and fees for an Option Grant Agreement leaves a “larger [than compliant] portion of employment income” ducking tax and NI as a “capital payment,” the contractor accountancy firm adds.

Registered to Uxbridge, Marquee Ltd is a bit different, as users provide their services to end-clients directly through ‘ML’, but in practice, “the two schemes operated in similar ways”.

Dolan Accountancy’s Zeeshan Anwar, the firm’s head of compliance, said his verdict of similarity is down to both schemes using the official-sounding but spurious "Option Grant Agreement."

'Get in touch'

Cutting to the chase of what users of either scheme probably need to do now is WTT Group’s Tom Wallace.

“If you have used any of these [arrangements], please get in touch,” he says.

Formerly a tax inspector, Wallace was referring to Marquee and Acacia, but his advice could equally apply to any of the almost 40 incorporated avoidance providers now blacklisted by HMRC.


The list's entries each having only a 12-month lifetime bothers adviser Louise Rayner. “Yes, they [HMRC] have a list of wrong’uns – [albeit] where the names are removed after 12 months.”

Boss of NumberMill, Rayner continued: “So how can people know if the company is a good...or not? It seems crazy to me… [or at the very least] exceedingly short-sighted.”

Yet if HMRC’s blacklist or advisers who circulate it has the result of “one [less] person getting embroiled in a scheme,” then it’s worth it, according to IWORK.

“The schemes on HMRC's list will usually result in a large tax bill for YOU, the worker or contractor that has signed up to the scheme,” warns IWORK's Julia Kermode.

'Be careful out there'

“You might not even know you are in a scheme; you might have been told to join a scheme in order to get work; you might think you have proof that tax has been paid.

“None of these points matter to HMRC,” Kermode cautioned in a post. “They will pursue YOU for the debt anyway. So please be careful out there.

“[And] remember that schemes often pay recruitment firms to refer you to the scheme. Just because your agency suggests a company doesn't mean it's ok.”

'Easier to go with a provider accredited by a recognised body'

At Dolan Accountancy, Mr Anwar echoed last night to readers of ContractorUK: “Our advice to workers is that they need to be careful with who they join.

“There are many reputable and trusted employment/payroll providers out there, and sometimes it’s just easier and hassle-free to go with… [one accredited by] the FCSA, or another industry-recognised trade body.”

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Written by Simon Moore

Simon writes impartial news and engaging features for the contractor industry, covering, IR35, the loan charge and general tax and legislation.
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