Taskforces are specialist teams that undertake intensive bursts of activity in specific high risk trade sectors and locations in the UK. The teams will visit traders to examine their records and carry out other investigations.
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) taskforces have recovered more than £500 million since they were launched five years ago.
The targeted bursts of enforcement activity have brought in progressively higher amounts every year, and the total now stands at more than £540 million. This includes nearly £250 million raised in 2015-16 alone, almost double the previous year’s yield.
Since 2011, HMRC has launched more than 140 taskforces targeting sectors that are at the highest risk of tax fraud including the retail sector, the tobacco industry and the adult entertainment industry.
Jennie Granger, Director-General for Enforcement and Compliance at HMRC, said:
The message is clear: if you try to cheat on your tax, we are going to catch you. A small number of people still think they can cheat the tax system; these figures prove we can track them down and take back what they owe.
We have increasing levels of intelligence, and use state-of-the-art digital tools to help us to identify and target high-risk areas.
Taskforces are just one strand of HMRC’s compliance strategy, which brought in a record £26.6 billion in 2014-15, up 43% from 2011-12.
Nearly 50 new taskforces were launched last financial year, including ones targeted at property, partnerships and hidden wealth. In 2015, a single taskforce focused on Income Tax led to 45 arrests for tax evasion and fraud.
Money brought in through taskforces in previous years:
Here are 6 tips should you be get an enquiry:
1. Establish Enquiry Type
It is important that the type of enquiry is established. If it is an Aspect Enquiry make sure it is fully dealt with. Remember HMRC needs a reason to extend an enquiry from aspect to full – challenge any extension where necessary.
2. Choose the Best Adviser
Does your accountant have experience of dealing with enquiries and investigations? do you need a specialist to help? do you have tax insurance or FSB membership?
3. Revenue Manuals
These manuals are a good source of information – particularly if the HMRC asks for something and you are wondering whether this should be allowed. We have seen the enquiry manual being quoted successfully to HMRC a number of times.
4. Reduce your risk by filing and paying on time
Events such as late returns or a poor compliance record can increase the likelihood of an investigation.
Once the investigation has started the standard of record keeping becomes important.
5. Own up to your mistakes
I you know of mistakes and errors its much better to declare them at the start of the enquiry.
6. Be Accurate
Or “tell the truth”. Be sensible in what the Inspector is told. Do not be tempted to say the first thing that comes to mind just to satisfy HMRC.