Opinion Former Article

CIOT: Tax crackdown – HMRC widen the net

Commenting on HMRC’s announcement1 today of a series of new anti-evasion taskforces, Gary Ashford, who represents the CIOT on HMRC’s Compliance Reform Forum, said:

“The range of groups targeted in this latest announcement shows how widely HMRC are casting their net – from high street barbers to high court barristers.

“The use of a taskforce tells us that HMRC have evidence of evasion in the sector that they are targeting. Lawyers are the first professional group to be covered by a taskforce. Previously doctors and dentists, and tutors and coaches have been covered by disclosure campaigns.

“Last year’s taskforces have already led to at least 13 criminal investigations. It is clear that HMRC are getting increasingly tough in their determination to reach their target of bringing in an extra £7 billion over the Parliament through initiatives to tackle tax avoidance, evasion and fraud.

“Whether they are in a sector affected by the taskforces or not, anyone who is worried that they have been underpaying tax – whether deliberately or in error – should get professional advice without delay. Penalties will generally be less severe for taxpayers who come forward voluntarily to put their affairs in order with HMRC.”

The Chartered Institute of Taxation is continuing to call for a ‘general disclosure facility’ to encourage people to get their tax affairs back in order. Gary Ashford said:

“As the House of Commons Treasury Committee has highlighted, there is a need for a clearly signposted, permanent route to enable anyone whose tax affairs have slipped but who has seen the light and wants to get themselves regularised again to do so. It would need to be clear what the penalties would be and the circumstances in which prosecution would be used. The aim has to be to encourage people to get back on track and not stay in the shadows.”

Notes to editors

HMRC today announced new taskforces targeting the legal profession in London; grocery and retail in South and North Wales, the North West and the South West; hair and beauty in the North East (including tattooists and traditional hairdressers); restaurants in the South East and Solent area; and the motor trade in Scotland.

Taskforces are specialist teams that undertake intensive bursts of activity in specific high risk trade sectors and locations in the UK. The teams will visit traders to examine their records and carry out other investigations.

HMRC say they expect the new taskforces to recover more than £19.75m from tax dodgers.

The Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT) is a charity and the leading professional body in the United Kingdom concerned solely with taxation. The CIOT’s primary purpose is to promote education and study of the administration and practice of taxation. One of the key aims is to achieve a better, more efficient, tax system for all affected by it – taxpayers, advisers and the authorities.

The CIOT’s comments and recommendations on tax issues are made solely in order to achieve its primary purpose: it is politically neutral in its work. The CIOT will seek to draw on its members’ experience in private practice, government, commerce and industry and academia to argue and explain how public policy objectives (to the extent that these are clearly stated or can be discerned) can most effectively be achieved.

The CIOT’s 16,500 members have the practising title of ‘Chartered Tax Adviser’ and the designatory letters ‘CTA’.

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George Crozier
External Relations Manager

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The Chartered Institute of Taxation
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