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Press watch: restaurants

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‘Over the next few months the taxman will dine out in some of London’s finest restaurants. Who will pick up the bill, you ask? We will be, as taxpayers.

‘But it is all above board. HMRC inspectors will be operating undercover as part of a covert operation triggered by the government’s plan to raise an extra £7bn a year from tax evaders.

‘The way it will work is that tax inspectors will buy meals at restaurants and then check whether their purchases have been properly accounted for.

‘So why have they picked this sector in particular? This is an area that has been identified as a problem area for HMRC. Restaurant owners are supposed to apply income tax and national insurance to tips, but when tips are paid in cash, it’s all too easy for waiting staff to pocket them and for the proprietor to turn a blind eye.’

Financial Times, 19 May 2011