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HMRC has added five existing tax avoidance schemes to its online list of tax avoidance promoters, enablers and suppliers – three of which are linked to Michelle Mone’s husband, Douglas Barrowman.
Douglas Barrowman, Lady Mone’s husband since they married on the Isle of Man in November 2020, is the founder and chairman of the Knox Group, a financial services and wealth management firm based on the island, which is widely considered to be a tax haven. HMRC said a Manchester-based company, AML Tax (UK) Ltd, which ran the three newly named tax avoidance schemes was “a part of Doug Barrowman’s Isle of Man-based Knox Group”.
Experts have welcomed HMRC naming these schemes, but urged the government to “take decisive action” and put a stop to these operators “once and for all”.
Fred Dures, founder of PayePass (umbrella company payroll auditor), commented: “The more tax avoidance schemes that are named and shamed the better. It means fewer individuals, recruiters and businesses engaging flexible workers are at risk.
“Even so, this list barely scratches the surface. It doesn’t call out the major players posing the biggest threat and avoiding the most tax, either. And I’ve no doubt that HMRC has a firm idea of these schemes.
“The government showed its hand recently, ditching plans to introduce a Single Enforcement Body. This held the key to umbrella industry regulation – vital in preventing these illegal operations and fundamental to the Treasury collecting billions in missing tax.
“So while I’m glad some tax avoidance schemes are being called out, I can’t help but wonder if the government is all that serious about putting a stop to them once and for all.”
Juia Kermode, founder of IWORK (the body championing temps), added: “This growing list of tax avoidance schemes is a good starting point, but it doesn’t reach a wide enough audience – which is why it’s vital to get the message out there. “More could and should be done to protect temporary workers and the wider supply chain from these rogue umbrella companies. It’s far too easy to fall into the trap of working through one without realising it. Often, the first temps know about it is when they’re hit with a devastating tax bill.”