Taxman adds Hamilton Bradbury, Olympus Contracting and Edge Umbrella to his ‘same-old, same-old’ avoidance list

HMRC has added Hamilton Bradbury Limited, Olympus Contracting Limited, and Edge Umbrella Limited to its avoidance ‘blacklist.’

The addition of the three schemes, company numbers 08436639; 12813204 and12556240, respectively, takes the number of avoidance arrangements contractors must withdraw from to 60.

But yesterday (on the day when the trio got ‘named and shamed’ by HMRC), experts suggested it isn’t what the list of schemes says which is worrying -- it’s what it suggests.

'Same-old, same-old arrangements'

Chartered accountant Graham Jenner perhaps summed it up best, saying the upload of fresh names usually makes him think that new ruses to avoid tax have been discovered.

He said he wouldn’t condone any such ruses, but also explained his curiosity is short-lived, as the schemes duping the taxman “always” appear to be the “same-old, same-old”.

“When HMRC publishes these updates, I initially feel intrigued to see what new or clever arrangement people must have come up with,” Jenner & Co’s boss began to ContractorUK.   

“But it’s nearly always the same old arrangements -- either some form of loan, or some form of dividend payment

“I’m not saying it would be good if new, cleverly thought-out arrangements were springing up. [Yet one] might think someone would come up with more sophisticated arrangements.

“Evidently, though, they need not bother. And while HMRC may be looking at more complex arrangements…[behind the scenes], the fact it is still outing new names who are doing the same-old, same-old schemes, suggests its efforts to stop avoidance aren’t working.”

'Encouraging, but...'

Professional Passport similarly sees an upside to the HMRC avoidance list weighed down by a big downside.

“It is encouraging to see HMRC's commitment to updating its naming and shaming list”, the compliance organisations began.

“[However] it is disappointing that we have not seen any evidence that once [blacklisted], the perpetrators are held to account”.

A freelance business analyst took to LinkedIn to enquire about repercussions for those added to the HMRC avoidance list, as companies or arrangements to avoid or withdraw from.

'Shut them down'

Posting in wake of HMRC last month blacklisting SmartPay, Payeworx and three other schemes, the analyst asked:

“[Is there] any reason why they [the Revenue] don't shut them down rather than just blacklisting? Why aren't the directors [of the named companies] banned from office?

Formerly of HMRC, Jesminara Rahman, now of Tax Resolute UK answered: “HMRC does not have the power to close these companies down.”

Yesterday, Professional Passport CEO Crawford Temple sounded sympathetic to the analyst.

'HMRC exposing innocent contractors'

“A list is one thing, but the architects of these schemes need pursuing and the schemes shut down,” Mr Temple said in a statement sent to ContractorUK.

“HMRC has all the data it needs to act quicker, and I simply cannot understand why that information is not being accessed and used. HMRC is missing a trick and exposing innocent contractors unnecessarily.”

Louise Rayner, managing director of NumberMill Accounting is more supportive of the HMRC list, even when reminded some commentators see it as a waste of time.

'Agencies, be warned'

“It’s good to see HMRC addressing these aggressive practices and the list is getting longer, demonstrating that they are at last starting to make real headway in cracking down on this.”:

Alluding to the list now identifying some 60 companies, Rayner continued to ContractorUK: “Any recruitment agencies using such schemes -- be warned, because you will end up in a HMRC supply chain investigation.”

By contrast, PayePass CEO Julia Kermode called the Revenue’s blacklist a “nonsense,” on the basis that each entry is deleted after just 12 months.

Kermode observing in a thread that the schemes get delisted after a year led to talk online that a record of every corporate name to join the blacklist should be created and maintained, although such a resource has already been started by ContractorUK Forum users, here.

Profile picture for user Simon Moore

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.
Printer Friendly, PDF & Email

Contractor's Question

If you have a question about contracting please feel free to ask us!

Ask a question