Under the new finance bill, which will become law in the next few weeks, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) will acquire new powers to force the individuals to pay the deficits upfront.
Approximately 33,000 people who have invested in tax avoidance schemes will be affected.
Among them are footballers David Beckham, Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard, TV personalities Anne Robinson, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Ant and Dec and business leaders such Universal music chief executive Lucian Grainge and Centrica CEO Sam Laidlaw.
They will be required to pay the disputed amount within 90 days of receiving the demand.
However, they could get their money back if the dispute is eventually settled in their favour, but in the meantime their money will be guarded by HMRC.
The government expects the new rules and the inability to defer tax payments will have an impact on these schemes and make them seem less attractive.
A HMRC representative has called the new powers a “game-changer” in their ongoing fight against tax avoidance.
There are several different types of tax avoidance schemes, but the majority of these require people to invest in a venture that is designed to make a loss.
Then these losses can be offset against other earnings, lowering the individual’s total income down and, therefore, lowering their tax bill.
HMRC sees this as a deliberate avoidance of paying tax and are trying to shut down many of these schemes.
Films are financed in a similar way.
A representative for a company that coordinates film-financing schemes said they arranged funding for films including Avatar and The Life Of Pie.
He highlighted successive government policies of encouraging investment in British films by presenting favourable tax benefits.
HMRC’s chief executive, Lin Homer, said that some tax avoidance schemes require investors to pay into a potential litigation fighting fund and to declare that they will not come to any personal agreements or settlements with HMRC – a statement that, she said, should serve as an alarm bell to any potential investor!
In addition to being able to demand immediate payment for tax bills still in dispute, HMRC are pursuing additional powers to retrieve said money directly from people’s bank accounts.
It says these powers are only for exceptional circumstances – for example, 17,000 tax bills that are not in dispute but still not paid.
That proposal is currently going through a consultation process, which will end in three weeks’ time.
If approved, by no means a certainty, it come into action in a year’s time.
Call us today on 0800 471 4546 for a confidential chat with one of our tax avoidance experts.