02 Jun HMRC taskforces
HMRC taskforces are comprised of multiple teams from across HMRC including special investigations, local compliance and criminal investigation units for targeting specific sectors and locations where there is a high risk of tax evasion. The taskforces use local knowledge and risk profiling to help create a list of businesses to target. The taskforces also use special software to uncover business areas where tax evasion is common place as well as to target specific businesses.
Over 140 taskforces have been launched since they were first introduced by HMRC in 2011. The taskforces have targeted sectors including the retail sector, the tobacco industry and the adult entertainment industry. HMRC has recently revealed that the taskforces raised £250 million in 2015-16. The total raised since the taskforces were first launched is £540 million.
Jennie Granger, Director General for Enforcement and Compliance at HMRC, said:
'The message is clear: if you try to cheat on your tax, we are going to catch you. A small number of people still think they can cheat the tax system; these figures prove we can track them down and take back what they owe. We have increasing levels of intelligence, and use state-of-the-art digital tools to help us to identify and target high-risk areas.'
Since April 2015, 50 new taskforces have been launched targeting sectors including property, partnerships and hidden wealth. The targeting of specific businesses by taskforces is not an amnesty and unlike some previous initiatives which sought to tempt taxpayers to come forward under favourable terms there is no formal disclosure facility on offer. HMRC inspectors therefore have the full range of civil and criminal sanctions at their disposal. The worst offenders can face criminal investigation and prison.