HMRC set up task force for tax dodgers

A new task force to tackle tax dodgers was announced recently by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). The first task force will focus on the restaurant trade, targeting businesses in London over the coming weeks.

The task forces, which bring together various HMRC compliance and enforcement teams, will undertake intensive bursts of compliance activity in specific trade sectors and locations across the UK, where there is evidence of high risk of tax evasion. The restaurant trade in Scotland and the North West will be the next areas targeted.

They come as a result of the Government’s £900m spending review investment to tackle tax evasion, avoidance and fraud from 2011/12, which aims to raise an additional £7bn each year by 2014/15.

Mike Eland, Director General Enforcement and Compliance, said:

“These task forces are a new approach which uses HMRC’s resources to identify and tackle rule-breakers and evaders swiftly and effectively.

Only those who choose to break the rules, or deliberately evade the tax they should be paying, will be targeted. Honest businesses have absolutely nothing to worry about.

But the message is clear – if you deliberately seek to evade tax HMRC can and will track you down, and you’ll face not only a heavy fine, but possibly a criminal prosecution as well.”

HMRC is planning a further nine task forces in 2011/12, with more to follow in 2012/13. Compliance activity through task forces will be 1:1 and target the highest-risk cases in that sector and location, typically focusing on groups of up to around 600 customers in specific locations.