HMRC recently announced that they have brought in an additional £109m in tax revenue in the last six months by pursuing claims against taxpayers who have not declared all their income for tax purposes. The specialist task forces employed to collect this tax are becoming increasingly effective at identifying and tracking down individuals and businesses who have not declared their true income and gains.
Between April and October 2015, HMRC launched 27 new taskforces targeting sectors that are at the highest risk of tax fraud, including Income Tax Self Assessment (ITSA) Repayments, Retail, Hidden Wealth and Grocery sectors, with one taskforce alone generating 22 arrests.
Taskforces were first launched in spring 2011 as part of HMRC’s compliance strategy to tackle tax evasion and fraud. Over 100 taskforces have been launched since then yielding more than £404 million, protecting this money for public services.
Speaking at the UK Tax Investigation Conference today, Jennie Granger, Director General for Enforcement and Compliance at HMRC, said:
“The message is clear if you try to cheat on your tax we are going to catch you – it’s only fair that we all pay what we should to fund public services. We have increasing amounts of intelligence, and are using state of the art digital tools to help us to identify and target high risk areas. This yield of £109 million – almost double the figure for the same period in 2014 – shows that our strategy is working.”
Taskforces bring together various HMRC compliance and enforcement teams for intensive bursts of activity targeted at specific sectors and locations where there is evidence of high risk of tax evasion and fraud. The teams visit traders to examine their records and carry out other investigations.
HMRC are also working with others to unmask the hidden economy including:
- Trading Standards, the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency and the Department for Work and Pensions to identify uninsured drivers and benefit cheats
- local authorities and Home Office immigration enforcement to investigate exploitation of migrant workers and multiple occupation of houses
- London boroughs and police to tackle rogue landlords charging cash-in-hand rents and exploiting vulnerable people living in sub-standard or unsafe homes
Legislation introduced in September 2013 means HMRC can use data from credit and debit card companies on sales made by retailers, to cross check against their VAT registrations and business income declared on tax returns.