HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) have announced plans to launch 30 new task forces over the next two years to tackle tax avoidance and tax evasion in the UK…

HMRC taskforces are launched to tackle a specific area of business in specific locations where the Revenue has evidence that tax evasion has taken place.

The most recent taskforce launched by HMRC targets electricians – the Electrician’s Tax Safe Plan (ETSP) – which launched on 14th February, with the e-Marketplace campaign set for the 14th March, will target those who trade online.

Trades that are likely to be targeted by HMRC’s newly announced taskforces include the motor trade, indoor and outdoor markets as well as the clothing industry.

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. 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 announced that they hope to collect over £50m through 12 taskforces launched in 2011/2012; with 13 criminal investigations already underway, the number of tax avoidance and tax evasion taskforces at the Revenue is set to rise.

HMRC have also said that some taskforces from 2011 will be extended to other parts of the country, including the scrap metal taskforce that was launched in Scotland in November 2011.

David Guake, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, said:

“The Government is committed to tackling tax evasion and avoidance. HMRC’s taskforces are cracking down on people who choose to break the rules and creating a level playing field for the majority who play by them.

“It is completely unacceptable, at a time when we are trying to bring down the deficit that, while most hard-working people pay the right tax, there are others who try to get out of contributing their fair share. HMRC has received lots of useful information on its evasion hotlines, which shows that the honest majority are quite rightly fed up with the dishonest minority.”

HMRC have said that further details on all taskforces for 2012/2013 will be announced later on in the year.

The recent increase in taskforces being released by HM Revenue and Customs follows the Government’s £917m investment to crack down on tax avoidance, tax evasion and tax fraud from 2011/2012. HMRC also hope to raise an additional £7bn each year through the task forces by 2014/2015.

Kevin Kinsella Jnr, of KinsellaTax, said:

“Off we go, almost no one is safe from HMRC. My problem is the standard of inspectors being used. The less experienced tend to continue investigating when the case probably should be closed down, but the new investigators think it is a failure not to produce something and quite a number of cases suffer from the HMRC zealots.

“We had a recent case where it was alleged that in excess of 23 bags of potatoes were used and only one week showed purchases of 23 bags. The chap who sold the bags said that the receipts he gave for the purchases were false and agreed to give the information providing it was confidential, but based on that evidence HMRC sought to increase the clients yearly takings by £15,000 per annum over 8 years in total of £120,000. Well I have invited HMRC to bring their witness to the tax tribunal and I will be delighted to cross examine a witness who has stated he has issued false receipts.

“My clients strenuously deny the allegations but the inspector is not, in my view, seeking to rely on this sort of evidence and is really struggling to make her case. These events, I think, will continue to occur given the limited training these inspectors have.

“I would like to know what Richard Summersgill means when he says “some taskforces have hit rates of 100 per cent so far”; 100 per cent of what I ask?”

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