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HMRC taskforces target cash trades and property sector

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Six new HMRC taskforces – specialist teams that undertake ‘intensive bursts of activity’ in high risk trade sectors and locations – are expected to recover tax of more than £23m, the department announced.

The taskforces will target tax evasion among traders in London markets; taxi firms in Yorkshire and the East Midlands; owners of rental property East Anglia, London, Yorkshire and the North East; and restaurants in the Midlands.

David Gauke, the Exchequer Secretary, said HMRC was on target to collect more than £50m as a result of the 12 taskforces launched in 2011/12.

Mike Eland, HMRC’s Director General, Enforcement and Compliance, said: ‘These six new taskforces will bring together specialists from across HMRC to tackle tax dodgers. If you have paid all your taxes you have nothing to worry about. But deliberately evading tax you should be paying can land you with not only a heavy fine but possibly a criminal prosecution as well.’

Paul Roberts, Head of Tax Investigations at Grant Thornton, said: ‘HMRC has been gathering intelligence on tax evasion for the last year or so using “web crawler” technology and is likely to have already identified several traders it plans to investigate.’

The CIOT backed the initiative, noting that HMRC figures indicated that ‘an estimated £8bn of the potential tax gap is down to tax evasion and the hidden economy’. It added that HMRC was ‘increasing attention’ on the property sector.