HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has a very successful record of winning cases against avoidance schemes that taxpayers choose to litigate. They are successful in around 80% of these cases, and many taxpayers, of course, settle before reaching litigation. When successful, HMRC will request costs in appropriate cases. Under the normal court rules relating to costs, these are recovered from the litigant.
The Government has introduced the High Risk Promoters (Promoters of Tax Avoidance Schemes) legislation in Finance Act 2014 to tackle the small and persistent minority of promoters of tax avoidance schemes who display behaviours that are detrimental to the integrity of the tax system. The legislation enhances HMRC's ability to tackle promoters who commonly design, market and implement products which overwhelmingly do not work. It focuses on promoters who rely on non-cooperation with HMRC and may rely on concealment and mis-description of elements of their schemes to succeed. Such promoters must change their behaviour voluntarily or, if they do not do so, be subject to information powers which affect them, their intermediaries and their clients – meaning that promoters can be named and fined up to £1 million.