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HMRC extends ‘tax cheats’ campaign and plans more arrests

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HMRC will invite people who have failed to complete tax returns and are liable to pay tax at the highest rates to make a voluntary disclosure under a new campaign to be launched during the next year.

The department will also target tradespeople working in the home improvement market, and people selling goods, either directly to others or on a commission basis.

Campaigns targeting electricians, and people using e-marketplaces to buy and sell goods, will be launched before the tax year ends on 5 April, HMRC said. Previous campaigns have targeted offshore accounts, medical professionals, plumbers, VAT defaulters and private tutors.


John Cassidy, tax investigation and dispute resolution partner at PKF, said: ‘There is some logic to targeting individual sectors but the returns from this approach have been somewhat disappointing – for example, HMRC raised only £4m from the plumbers’ amnesty since it started in March 2011.’

But HMRC said ten plumbers had been arrested and more arrests were planned. ‘In addition, more than 1,000 civil cases have been prepared.’

Cassidy suggested that a broader tax amnesty for all individuals and the self-employed would be more cost effective ‘because there are definite economies of scale at work’.

Gary Ashford, who represents the CIOT on HMRC’s Compliance Reform Forum, said the campaigns showed that HMRC was determined to reach its target of bringing in an extra £7bn during the course of the Parliament through initiatives to tackle tax avoidance, evasion and fraud.

Details of the ‘HMRC campaigns’ are set out on the HMRC website. Tutors registered for the Tax Catch Up Plan have until 31 March 2012 to tell HMRC what they owe and make arrangements to pay. The notification period closed last month.