It's official: plumbers are UK's tax enemy number 1
After Doctors, Dentists and offshore bank account holders, now Plumbers are the latest quarry in HMRC’s sights.
The brand new Plumbers Tax Safe Plan (PTSP) is here and out to get plumbers, gas fitters and heating engineers the length and breadth of the country. Of course, HMRC don’t sell it that they are out to get scurrilous and dishonest tradesmen, no, they are merely offering an opportunity to declare all and 'only' suffer reduced (note not removed) penalties for your trouble. And once plumbers are forced to cough up all that unpaid tax- just think how much that leaky tap is gonna cost you...
As in previous amnesties, there is a period of notification (ie telling HMRC that you may have been a naughty plumber) followed by a period of disclosure (telling them exactly how bad you have been). For the PTSP the notification period runs from 1 March 2011 to 31 May 2011, and the disclosure needs to be made by 31 August 2011. Note that it is possible to notify that you need to disclose and then change your mind. And if HMRC are as dense as they were at the time of the first offshore amnesty, they won’t even chase you up.
What’s in it for me?
According to HMRC’s guidance, the main benefit they see is that “you will be able to stop worrying about what might happen if HMRC find out that you’ve not been telling them about all of your income” because in my experience tax evaders do indeed lie awake at night chewing their nails worrying about what might become of them.
However, for most people who may, perhaps, possibly think that they may have been a teeny bit naughty, the main advantage of disclosing under the scheme is that penalties, normally set at statutory minimum levels will be reduced by a minimum of 15%. The ordinary rules can levy a penalty of up to 100% of the tax loss, but under the PTSP scheme the penalty rate can only be 0%, 10% or 20%, depending on whether you were merely careless, or if you were deliberately concealing your income.
But in addition to these reduced penalties, the main benefit of taking part in the scheme seems to be the fact that you are being given chance to jump before you are pushed. You see, HMRC have been busy obtaining ‘information’ and ‘internet research’ about the plumbing industry and the people working within the industry. “After 31 May 2011, when the deadline for notifying has passed, HMRC will begin to use this information. HMRC will compare this information with the details that customers have shown on their tax returns. Where they haven’t sent any tax returns, HMRC will compare our information with what they know about them and will explore why they haven’t sent HMRC any returns.”
Of course, HMRCs Charter states that they believe “customers want to get things right”- that people are honest taxpayers who want to pay the right amount of tax. Well, all except plumbers it seems.
What if I am a naughty boy but am not a plumber?
S&M aside, if you are feeling overcome with remorse and want to ‘fess up, but are not of this particular U-bend bent, you can still disclose, using the same forms, and receive the same or similar favourable penalty treatment. However there is no big stick at your back promising HMRC scrutiny into the lives and loves of wallpaperers. Yet.