Accelerated Payment (APNs) & Follower Notices (FNs)

HMRC are able to demand payment of tax upfront in cases where the taxpayer has participated in tax avoidance schemes. HMRC can issue taxpayers with such notices before the Courts have ruled on the validity of the scheme.

What are the Notices?

If taxpayers have been involved in a tax avoidance scheme, they could receive a Follower Notice, APN, or both from HMRC.

An APN can be issued if:

  • there is either an open enquiry or appeal into the taxpayer’s tax return or claim; and
  • the tax return or claim was submitted on the basis that the taxpayer could reduce their tax liability as a result of participating in certain tax avoidance arrangements.

A Partner Payment Notice (PPN) is similar to an APN, but is used where the taxpayer has participated in a tax avoidance scheme through a partnership.

The APN will only allow 90 days for payment so immediate action is required.

There is no right of appeal against the notices, therefore the only potential legal remedy is Judicial Review.

It is, however, possible to make written representations objecting on procedural and/or quantum grounds. In relation to quantum, assessments are made on the basis of an Officers ‘best judgement’ and therefore the accuracy of the assessments is always an issue.

A Follower Notice  requires a taxpayer to amend their return to remove entries relating to the tax avoidance arrangement from the tax return or claim so that the liability becomes the amount that it would have been had the particular arrangements not been utilised.

A Follower Notice is issued when HMRC has succeeded in court against another case that the tax avoidance arrangements are found to be ineffective, and it believes that the same issues in that case are relevant to your case. Similar conditions to the ones that apply to an APN also need to be satisfied in order for a Follower Notice to be issued.

Non-compliance with a Follower Notice can render the taxpayer liable to penalties of up to 50% of the tax outstanding.

Anticipating an APN, PPN or Follower Notice.

HMRC has published a list of schemes where they intend to issue APNs. Where a taxpayer identifies a scheme they have been involved with, they should make arrangements to have their tax exposure properly quantified and if necessary make provision to enable them to pay the APN when demanded.

HMRC allow 90 days to pay the APN. Failure to pay the tax amount within 90 days will result in a penalty.

It is possible to negotiate “Time To Pay”, however this is awarded discretionally by HMRC.

HOW CAN LANCASTER KNOX HELP?

At Lancaster Knox our Tax Investigation specialists are industry recognised and have established relationships with HMRC.  We are experienced at dealing with APNs and we know what a valid notice must include.

It is important to act early.  There are strict time frames, therefore it is important to get in contact as soon as possible following receipt of a notice.

Our specialist support will ease the process and guide through the appropriate action for your circumstances.

We regularly help clients who are experiencing cash flow difficulties to consider their options which means it is less likely that HMRC will use its various enforcement/debt collection powers to collect payment.

If the notice is valid, the next step is usually to make payment.  If appropriate, we can discuss negotiating a “Time To Pay” [insert link] arrangement with HMRC.

If, however, you do not consider that the amount is due then we can advise on the best next steps and, where appropriate, we can appeal any penalties levelled on an APN or Follower Notice on your behalf.

Lancaster Knox will always work with you and, where relevant, your current adviser to discuss payment options and, where relevant, will negotiate a time to pay arrangement with HMRC.  We will always ensure that your interests are best protected.