25th January 2016
HMRC is gearing up to make an announcement which will come as a “a devastating hammer blow” to tens of thousands of pension scam victims, the chairman of a national campaign group has warned.
The caution comes from Angela Brooks of ACA Pension Life, an organisation set-up to rescue victims of pension liberation scams, as the UK tax authority prepares to issue protective assessment letters.
Brooks said: “Many innocent victims of pension liberation scams, the majority of whom have lost their entire lifetime savings, are now about to be dealt another devastating hammer blow, and this time it’s from HM Revenue & Customs.
“There are tens of thousands of people across the UK and abroad who were told by conmen using sophisticated tactics that they could access their British pensions tax-free thanks to a legal loophole. This is not, and has never been, the case.”
And now the taxman is to send out its next wave of protective assessment letters to victims with tax demands of a staggering 55% added Brooks.
“This is the horrific fate that awaits many. It will ruin lives,” she added.
“It means not only have these victims almost certainly lost their hard-earned retirement savings, now they will owe HMRC a huge amount of tax.
“In addition, most also face other crippling debts and loans.”
To make matters worse, Brooks highlighted that it now looks as though HMRC are going to do exactly what they did last year – which is leave it until the absolute last minute to issue these letters.
This means thousands of victims of dozens of schemes who did transfers in the 2011/12 tax year will get their letters up to 30 days before 5 April.
Brooks said: “This, it appears, is a deliberate tactic to give victims the least possible amount of time to get themselves appealed and give HMRC the strongest chance of getting a determination and avoiding the appeal.
“It is a heart breaking, and seemingly never-ending, story. We hear about new scams and more victims every day.
But ACA Pension Life asserted that HMRC must also take some responsibility.
“If they stopped registering pension schemes without doing due diligence, the fraudsters would not be able to operate.”
In December, Brooks called on the government to set up an independent, specialist task force to tackle the “serious and growing problem” of liberation scams with a joined-up approach that would involve HMRC, the Pensions Regulator and the Financial Conduct Authority.