The UK HMRC has issued a stop notice against a Northern Ireland company under the Promoters of Tax Avoidance Schemes (POTAS) regime.

Under the POTAS regime HMRC has the power to publish information about promoters of tax avoidance schemes that are subject to a stop notice, alerting individuals to avoid signing up to illegal payment schemes.

The Northern Ireland entity is called Target Umbrella Limited (TUL), 6 Margaret Street, Newry,  Northern Ireland, BT34 1DF.  The notice states that TUL is a promoter of this scheme along with a Maltese company called Integra Resourcing Limited (IRL), Block 12 Office M1 Suite 106, Tigne Place, Tigne Street, Sliema, Malta, SLM 7173.

TUL had 31 employees according to its latest available abridged financial statements to the year ended 29 November 2022 and 131 in the prior year.

The HMRC say that users of the TUL/IRL scheme sign separate employment contracts with (IRL) and TUL. Users also sign an ‘Overarching Agreement’ with IRL to provide ‘loans’ to the user.

TUL sign a contract for services with the agency or the end client to provide the services of the user. TUL then invoices the end client for the work undertaken by the user. TUL pay users a salary in line with the National Minimum Wage Act for time worked and pays the remaining amount to IRL. IRL then pays the user a second nominal salary, per payroll run, usually below £10, and a larger amount, described as a ‘loan’. The ‘loan’ amount is not taxed.

Stop notices are one of the ways in which HMRC tackle tax avoidance and those responsible for promoting it. The notice’s legal impact is:

  • the promoter who receives the notice must stop selling the specified scheme;
  • the promoter who receives the notice must also pass a copy of it to certain associated persons, who are also subject to the stop notice and must also stop selling the specified scheme;
  • all those persons subject to the notice must inform HMRC of all the people to whom they have promoted the scheme and the names of those to whom they continue to promote it;
  • the persons subject to the stop notice must inform all clients and intermediaries that they are subject to a stop notice, what this means, and provide them with a copy of the stop notice.

Where a promoter fails to comply with a stop notice they can face penalties of up to £100,000 which can increase to up to £1 million in certain circumstances.

Anyone affected should contact HMRC as soon as possible. There is more information about how to do this here.

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