|>>|| No. 15570
As a freelancer, I struggle to feel sympathy for someone who owes six figures in back taxes. IR35 can legitimately be a pain in the arse sometimes, but a lot of freelancers will jump on any old tax fiddle and then cry foul when the taxman calls them out on their bullshit. For the most part, we're well-paid professionals who should really know better.
My understanding is that these people were using complex offshore arrangements to pay almost nothing in income tax. They were taking "loans" that were really remuneration, for the specific purpose of avoiding tax. If you believe that HMRC will let you get away with that, I've got a bridge to sell you.
I've spoken to a few French freelancers, who've told me that their marginal tax rate is close to 60% once you factor in mandatory health and social contributions. By comparison, British freelancers seem to get a plum deal without any dodgy offshore fiddles. Most of us pay no more in income tax than an equivalent employee and far less in national insurance.
In my own dealings with HMRC, they have been consistently helpful, professional and straightforward. I tell them the truth, they tell me how much tax I owe, I pay it. Easy peasy. In my early years of freelancing I badly cocked up a tax return, but I promptly admitted my error and HMRC agreed to affordable monthly repayments with no penalties. I hear all sorts of horror stories about HMRC, but most of them have a vaguely suspicious air of half-truth.