New taskforces planned to target tax cheats

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is to launch 30 new taskforces to crack down on tax dodgers in 2012-13.

The taskforces will target specific business sectors in specific locations where there is evidence of tax evasion, with likely targets including:

  • the clothing industry, including imports and wholesale
  • the motor trade
  • indoor and outdoor markets.

The plans unveiled on 23 February followed an HMRC announcement on 14 February that it was launching the Electricians Tax Safe Plan, which will provide a time-limited opportunity for electricians to pay the tax they owe – of any kind – with reduced penalties.

Electricians have until 15 May to tell HMRC they want to take part. Once they do so, they have until 14 August to make their disclosure and arrange for payment. If they make a full disclosure, most will face a penalty rate of ten per cent of tax owed, with a maximum of 20 per cent, compared with more usual penalties of up to 100 per cent of tax paid.

A similar e-market places campaign targeting people trading online to sell goods and services as a trade or as a business, but who are not paying the right amount of tax, is due to launch on 14 March.

HMRC already expects to collect over £50 million as a result of 12 taskforces launched in 2011/12 and plans to extend some of those taskforces to different locations, including the scrap metal taskforce launched in Scotland in November.

Richard Summersgill, HMRC’s Director of Local Compliance, said: “Taskforces only target people who are at high risk of breaking the rules and don’t pay the tax they owe. We know we’re going after the right people – some taskforces have hit rates of 100 per cent so far.

“Only those who choose to break the rules, or deliberately evade the tax they should be paying, will be targeted.”

LINK: Reporting tax fraud