The Treasury has closed down a couple of tax avoidance schemes being used by Barclays Bank, with retrospective effect.

The move follows an admission by the bank itself that it was using the schemes which saved some £500 million in tax, according to news reports. Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme Minister David Gauke indicated that no tax penalties would be due,

One can speculate as to why the use of these schemes has only just come to light. It would appear that the bank did not follow an industry agreed code of conduct in making a disclosure earlier. 

Some observers have reflected that the bank seems to have exempted itself from its obligations under the Disclosure of Tax Avoidance Schemes (DOTAS) regime.

Barclays is no stranger to bad PR in respect of its tax avoidance deals. Back in 2009 it had to resort to the courts for an injunction to prevent the Guardian publishing papers detailing offshore avoidance schemes, as leaked by a whistleblower. The story goes that its tax department has played a game of cat and mouse with HMRC over many years.