HMRC
HM Revenue & Customs will soon begin using new powers to recover money from tax avoidance schemesReuters

Britain's taxman HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) paid out £400,000 in 2013 to whistleblowers who notified the authority of people who had avoided paying tax through elaborate schemes.

According to a Freedom for Information (FoI) request, made by the Telegraph, whistleblower payouts ranged from £50 (€63, $81) to £1,000. The latest figures show a 30% rise in rewards for tax avoidance informants over the last three years.

The HMRC received around 97,036 tip-offs in 2013 but, while every call to the whistleblower hotline is investigated, only a small proportion leads to a reward.

By the end of March 2016, the HMRC will issue 43,000 letters – known as an Accelerated Payment Notice – to Britons telling them they owe the government, on average, £155,000 as the authority starts cracking down on tax avoidance in line with new powers granted under the Finance Act 2014.

This will cover around £7.1bn in disputed tax.

Tax avoiders get 90 days to pay

"HMRC is making good progress in tackling marketed avoidance as today's figures illustrate," said Jennie Granger, director general of enforcement and compliance at HMRC.

"If anyone is concerned about being able to pay the notice they should contact us as soon as possible to discuss their options."

The notices are issued where a taxpayer has entered into a tax avoidance arrangement that has been notified to HMRC, under the disclosure of tax avoidance scheme rules (DOTAS), or where a counteraction has taken place under the general anti-avoidance rules (GAAR).

Taxpayers who receive a notice will have to pay the tax due to HMRC within 90 days.

A Follower Notice can be issued by HMRC where it believes there has been a final court or tribunal decision in a case that is similar to the tax treatment that has been claimed by the taxpayer.

Where a Follower Notice has been issued, the taxpayer will be required to amend their tax return, or claim or withdraw any appeal against an HMRC closure notice, assessment or determination.