HM Revenue and Customs and the Advertising Standards Authority are working together to cut out misleading marketing by promoters of stamp duty and other tax avoidance schemes.
A statement from the Treasury says: “The joint enforcement notice aims to disrupt the activity of promoters and protect people from being presented with misleading adverts which may tempt them into tax avoidance.”
The statement requires promoters to be clear about the potential consequences of stamp duty and other tax avoidance in any online adverts.
Immediate sanctions include having their paid advertising removed from search engines and follow-up compliance action, which can include referral to Trading Standards.
HMRC routinely warns against tax avoidance schemes. Its so-called Spotlight series about tax avoidance schemes is published on the gov.uk website and warns people about what to look out for.
In 2019 and 2020, HMRC issued 11 Spotlight warnings about different tax avoidance schemes.
Jesse Norman MP, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, says: “The government has made clear its determination to clamp down on the promoters of tax avoidance schemes ... We would encourage people to pay close attention to HMRC’s warnings not to enter tax avoidance schemes. If it looks too good to be true, it almost certainly is.”
And Miles Lockwood, director of complaints and investigations at the ASA, adds: “This notice serves as a clear warning to promoters of tax avoidance schemes – get your houses in order and ensure your ads comply with the law and our advertising rules, or face enforcement action ... Working with bodies such as HMRC is helping us to better protect consumers from misleading and unfair advertising that can leave them out of pocket.”