HMRC announced on 19 November the latest business sectors to be targeted by their task forces. This is the latest in a series of initiatives by HMRC, designed to clamp down on tax evasion and reduce the tax gap (the difference between the tax that ought to be paid and is paid).
In addition to targeting buy-to-let landlords in the South East (excluding London), other taskforces will be focusing on the alcohol industry in Scotland, the rag trade in the Midlands, North Wales and North-West England.
HMRC have estimated that the newly announced task forces should raise in excess of £17 million from these initiatives and they’re on course to collect £50 million in total from the 30 Task Forces announced since May 2011.
The taskforces are designed to operate ‘short, sharp’ bursts of activity and concentrate on specific trades in areas which are perceived as ‘high-risk’, and conduct announced and unannounced visits to businesses. There is a real risk that the businesses affected will face a full enquiry into their affairs and in the most serious cases HMRC may pass information to the criminal investigation teams to consider prosecution.
HMRC are not offering any additional beneficial terms for making a voluntary disclosure in relation to these initiatives. It is therefore essential that anyone who operates in these sectors and feels that they might be at risk should seek specialist advice to assess their options.