During December HMRC sent out letters to hundreds of contractors that had used offshore schemes/EBTs in and around 2013/14 warning that accelerated payment notices (APN) may be sent to contractors. An APN is a requirement to pay an amount on account of tax or National Insurance Contributions (NICs) within 90 days. Where an APN is issued the individual has to pay the tax even if they dispute the amount.
HMRC issues APNs to taxpayers it believes were involved in avoidance schemes. Offshore schemes and EBTs can fall into this category. Unfortunately for many contractors the scheme operators have either disappeared or are asking for payment before they will defend the scheme. Further info can be found on HMRC's website.
Some contractors have clubbed together with other scheme users to set up a fighting fund. Contractor websites are also being used to gather support. Others have contacted their current accountant for advice. If you or your contractors have any questions surrounding this topic, David McManus in our tax team is our in-house expert on these matters.