HMRC de-registers 770 pension liberation scam schemes in 7 years

HMRC has de-registered 770 schemes since 2014 that had been used for pension liberation scams.

A letter from Work and Pension Committee chair, Stephen Timms, said pension scam victims had cited a scheme’s registration with HMRC as a “crucial factor” in their decision to transfer, and he asked HMRC what action it had taken to prevent this in future.

In response, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, John Glen, highlighted that legislation passed in 2013 to help detect, disrupt and deter promoters of liberation scam schemes had led to an 88 per cent reduction in applications to register new pension schemes.

Additionally, through a fit and proper test introduced for administrators in 2014, administrators were identified as not fulfilling the appropriate criteria, prevented from registering new schemes and de-registered from any existing schemes.

Through this process, HMRC has de-registered 770 schemes that had been used for liberation scams since the introduction of the test.

In his letter, Timms referenced a Police Foundation report that described HMRC’s approach to pension scam victims as “unrelenting and uncompromising”, asking whether HMRC would review how it interacts with scam victims.

“HMRC’s role is to apply the laws laid down by Parliament,” responded Glen.

“However, in doing so it does all it can to help anyone who believes that they may have been misled about their pension investments.

“HMRC recognises that facing a large tax bill can be very stressful and is committed to making affordable payment arrangements and giving enhanced support to customers who need extra help.”

Glen also noted that HMRC was no longer a member of multi-agency taskforce against pension scams, Project Bloom, due to taxpayer confidentiality, but said that HMRC had “always communicated” with Project Bloom members.

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