HMRC and the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) have issued a joint enforcement notice to combat ads promoting aggressive tax avoidance schemes. What’s going on?

HMRC has teamed up with the ASA to send an enforcement notice to businesses that advertise schemes relating to “disguised remuneration” or stamp duty land tax online. The notice requests that the recipient reads the guidance and checks their website for compliance immediately, or risk potential enforcement action.

In particular, the notice stresses that ads should not imply that schemes are approved or endorsed by HMRC unless there is evidence to prove that is the case. The notice gives a case study example for an income trust scheme whose website stated “approved by the House of Lords in 2005”, “known and accepted by HMRC since 1994” and “Fully disclosed to HMRC”. The notice also stipulates that the risks of entering into avoidance arrangements must be made clear, or the advert will breach ASA rules.

Be vigilant if you are sent marketing material promising savings that sound too good to be true. Taking this at face value and entering into a contrived scheme is likely to lead to HMRC putting your tax affairs under a magnifying glass for years, and could prove to be very expensive and stressful. If you are sent material that could be in breach of the ASA rules, consider making a complaint via its website.

This article has been reproduced by kind permission of Indicator – FL Memo Ltd. For details of their tax-saving products please visit or call 01233 653500.