HM Revenue &Customs (HMRC) today (11 January 2010) launched a "Tax Health Plan" aimed at medical practitioners, in the first stage of a campaign designed to help professionals address their unpaid tax liabilities quickly.
Information HMRC has suggests that some medical professionals may be understating the amount of earnings upon which UK tax and duties is due.
Under the new plan, doctors, dentists and hospital consultants will be able to come forward and declare past tax irregularities. These would be subject to a guaranteed penalty of 10%, rather than the maximum 100% which could be imposed if they were to be investigated by HMRC.
The new plan also removes the prospect of prosecution or public "naming and shaming".
Medical professionals have until 31 March 2010 to register their intention to disclose. Disclosures must be completed and payment made to HMRC by 30 June 2010.
Gary Ashford, Tax Investigation Specialist at accountancy firm RSM Tenon, said: "We welcome this new initiative as it offers a relatively painless way for doctors and other medical practitioners to bring their tax affairs up to date.
"We would encourage them to take full advantage of the Tax Health Plan rather than wait for HMRC to find out about any problems as this could lead to some tough questions.
"Some would prefer to go through an intrusive medical examination than subject themselves to a tax investigation – the former usually takes a few hours at most; the latter can take years."
Stephen Camm, tax partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, said: "These types of campaign are much more cost-effective for HMRC than traditional tax investigations.
"They draw a line in the sand – if someone doesn't come forward under an opportunity like this they can expect little leniency when it comes to future penalties, which will be extremely high – up to 100% of the tax."