For some time now, HMRC has been focused on encouraging disclosures of un-declared income, with the introduction of its first publicised disclosure campaign back in 2007, the “Offshore Disclosure Facility”, which focused on individuals with undeclared foreign income.
This focus has continued with a number of subsequent disclosure campaigns; the “New Disclosure Opportunity” in 2009, the “Liechtenstein Disclosure Facility” in 2009, and HMRC expects to ratify the “Swiss Disclosure Agreement” in 2013. This latter opportunity has received both mixed responses and considerable coverage, and is a clear indication of HMRC’s current focus on tackling tax evasion, both locally and internationally.
Whilst the above disclosure opportunities are focused on individuals with offshore elements, HMRC has significantly increased its activity at a local level, with the introduction of further campaigns targeted at specific business sectors such as the Tax Health Plan for Doctors and Dentists in 2010, the Private Tuition Professionals in 2011 for tutors, and the Plumbers Tax Safe Plan in 2011 for tradespeople.
Other current HMRC focus includes;
e-Markets Disclosure Facility - focusing on internet traders buying and selling goods as a trade or business and who fail to pay the tax that they owe. Under the opportunity, online marketplace traders can come forward at any time between 14 March 2012 and 14 June 2012 to tell HMRC they want to take part, and then have until 14 September 2012 to give details of the tax owed and arrange for a full payment, including any interest or penalty due.
Electricians Tax Safe Plan – this gives an opportunity for electricians to come forward and declare unpaid tax. People should notify their intention to take part in this campaign by 15 May 2012 and then have until 14 August 2012 to make a full disclosure.
“Taskforces” – HMRC’s focussed investigation teams
The drive by HMRC to target specific businesses where there is suspicion of tax evasion has been focussed with the creation of “Taskforces” launched by HMRC in 2012 and through 2013. Taskforces are a significant part of HMRC’s focus on tackling suspected tax evasion and avoidance, and are underpinned by HMRC’s clear message that failure to take opportunity to disclose tax irregularities under the numerous disclosure routes can result in criminal prosecution in the most serious of cases.
Initial details on the taskforce targets suggest the likely targets are:
- “rag” trade
- motor trade
- indoor and outdoor markets
HMRC have invested significant financial resources into these taskforces, from which it hopes to encourage disclosure underpinned by an intrusive investigation if necessary to recover significant sums of tax from those sectors it suspects of deliberately underpaying tax.
What to do and how we can help?
There is no escaping HMRC’s campaign at tackling suspected tax evasion in specific business sectors, and if you think you may be affected by any of HMRC’s current or proposed future campaigns, it is important to seek expert advice without delay. Doing nothing is not an option as HMRC’s underlying message is clear – “contact us before we contact you”.
We have extensive experience in assisting individuals with making disclosures to HMRC, managing the investigation process and defending clients wrongly suspected by HMRC.
If you think you may be affected, please contact one of the Tax Investigations team for a no obligation discussion.
Team Contact Details…
Jon Claypole – firstname.lastname@example.org
Dave Jennings - email@example.com - 07881 283409
Tony Monger - firstname.lastname@example.org - 07989 352 991
Sarah Stenton – email@example.com - 07794031450