Debt collection agencies will work in conjunction with HMRC to investigate records of approximately 150,000 people who earn more than £150,000 per year – the threshold for the 50% tax band.
The idea has come after a pilot amnesty which was aimed at the medical professional led to one doctor in particular finding to owe over £1 million in unpaid taxes and a dentist handing over £300,000.
After the successful amnesty, similar campaigns will be launched at other high-earning professionals such as lawyers, architects and sports stars.
As HMRC have struggled to claw back unpaid taxes, private debt collection agencies are being drafted in to help with the mammoth task.
Companies, such as Capita, have initiated the use of lie detector tests to recognise potential fraudsters for the Department of Work and Pensions.
Sources at HMRC have suggested that ‘voice recognition analysis’ which alert investigators when a caller claiming benefits sounds nervous, could be used in the same way for Inspectors to identify those who are trying to mislead them or have something to hide.
Those with offshore accounts will also be amongst those targeted by using a dedicated team aimed at catching taxpayers hiding money in foreign banks.
Legally, private companies have limited powers in comparison to Government agencies when it comes to enforcement measures such as raiding properties.
However, pilot schemes have demonstrated that the power to write to and telephone suspects has been proven to be more successful and effective than HMRC staff.
Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrats, tried to soothe supporters’ nerves that the poor were bearing the brunt of the recession by highlighting their plans for tackling tax evasion and cracking down on wealthy tax evaders.
Danny Alexander, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said:-
“There are some people who seem to believe that not paying their fair share of tax is a lifestyle choice that is socially acceptable. It is not.”
Although officials have calculated that £7 billion is lost per year through tax avoidance, HMRC have estimated the annual number of prosecutions will rise fivefold bringing in £7 billion.
HMRC will invest up to £900 million until the tax year 2014/15 to create an offshore avoidance scheme which will increase the number of prosecutions.