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HMRC expands ‘affluent unit’

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HMRC has increased the number of staff in its affluent unit by 20% over the last year, from 327 to 395, according to accountancy firm Moore Stephens. The unit was founded in 2011 to investigate the tax affairs of UK residents with an annual income of over £150,000, or a net worth of £1m. Moore Stephens says HMRC is targeting a much broader tax base than just high net-worth individuals, influenced by factors such as:

  • possessing offshore bank accounts or property;
  • having significant property holdings in the UK;
  • paying a low rate of tax on total income; and
  • having previously been involved in a tax planning scheme.

Partner at Moore Stephens, Dominic Arnold, said: ‘HMRC is under political pressure to perform within its budget and it has ramped up its activity this year as the government tries to maximise tax take without increasing headline rates of tax. The growth of the affluent unit shows how HMRC is now focusing its attention on professionals and entrepreneurs who may only be just inside the upper tax bracket.’

Arnold added: ‘Taxpayers who think they might be within the remit of the expanding affluent unit should check their tax affairs are in order. Some of the parameters HMRC is using to determine who faces scrutiny are fairly unrefined.’