By Gareth Iacobucci
Scores of GPs with unpaid tax who refused an amnesty offered as part of the HM Revenue and Customs clampdown on the medical profession have been left facing bills of up to £250,000, accountants say.
The forecast comes after the HMRC revealed that only 1,500 doctors declared tax irregularities under its tax amnesty scheme, which promised that doctors who came forward voluntarily would face a reduced 10% penalty for their back taxes.
Pulse recently reported that around a fifth of the doctors who came forward voluntarily before the June 30 deadline were GPs, meaning just 300 GPs are likely to have declared unpaid tax under the scheme.
But accountants said the low numbers could be attributable to hundreds of doctors who owed more than £75,000 choosing not to take part in the Tax Health plan – even though they could now face a penalty of up to 100% of the unpaid taxes – because it did not offer them protection against prosecution.
Craig Tully, partner with Gilbert Tax, said hundreds of doctors owing large sums of money, including many GPs, were likely to have ignored the scheme, which promised a low bureaucracy approach to dealing with unpaid tax in favour of formal civil procedures that protected them from prosecution.
He said: ‘There were quite a lot of those [doctors] about. I think it would be hundreds. As a figure, £250,000 wouldn’t be out of the norm.’
‘The scheme did not offer the best terms. There is no finality, and no immunity from prosecution.’
He added: ‘Anybody owing over £75,000 would have been well advised to deal with it under the civil investigation approach procedures, which would have put them in a position to ensure they wouldn’t get prosecuted based on making the full disclosure.’
‘For those that fall into this bracket, they go into a different process, and provide a full report to the revenue of what they’ve done and then come to a cash settlement with the revenue.’
An HMRC spokesperson said although the Tax Health scheme was now closed, any GPs with tax irregularities should come forward and declare them.
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