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HMRC goes after scrap dealers

7th Nov 2011
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HMRC this week beefed up its risk-based anti-evasion strategy with five new taskforces, including one targeting scrap metal dealers in Scotland.

As the results of HMRC’s restaurant crackdown has shown, targeting areas where the risk of evasion is high is proving to be fruitful for the tax department. Investigations into 531 outlets has identified £634,000 in potential unpaid tax. The restaurant sweep fingered 222 businesses north of the border, and one of the new taskforces will specifically focus on fast food outlets in Scotland thought to be mis-declaring their true sales levels.

  • The other targeted sectors include:
  • Construction firms and self employed builders suspected of suppress sales figures or over-claiming expenses in the North West and North Wales
  • Taxpayers not submitting their statutory returns across Corporation Tax, Income tax Self Assessment, PAYE and VAT in the South East
  • Landlords owning or renting three or more properties in the North West and North Wales who may be evading their tax responsibilities.

But the headline-grabbing announcement will be the taskforce devoted to tackling evasion among scrap metal dealers in Scotland. The rising price of copper during 2011 has fuelled a spate of rail cable thefts, causing widespread disruption for travellers and calls for greater regulation of the scrap metal industry, including one from AccountingWEB member DMGbus in May.

While HMRC has not introduced any new paperwork or procedures to regulate the industry, paying closer attention to its record-keeping revives the Al Capone strategy of harassing and deterring criminals through tax compliance measures. Why Scottish scrap metal dealers alone are being targeted at this point is not clear.

David Gauke, the Exchequer Secretary, said that the taskforces are a direct result of the government’s £917m spending review re-investment to tackle tax evasion, avoidance and fraud, which aims to raise an additional £7bn each year by 2014/15. The five new teams are part of the 12 planned for 2011/12, and more will follow next year, HMRC said.


Replies (4)

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By johnjenkins
07th Nov 2011 16:45

They are also

going after car washes. In fact anything to do with cash. HMRC nees to get lots of money to pay for failed asylum seekers compensation.

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By ShirleyM
08th Nov 2011 07:24

Theft of copper cable

Who else but scrap metal dealers would buy it?

The cost to the general public is far greater than it's value. Anything that reduced these thefts has to be welcomed.

Unfortunately, the police appear to do very little, even where scrap yards are repeatedly found to be holding stolen cable or stolen cars.

Closing down the scrap yards that don't abide by the law and deal in stolen goods would get a strong message across, and help the yards that do abide by the law.

Thanks (1)
By petersaxton
08th Nov 2011 10:00

Well said

"the police appear to do very little"

Shouldn't that be said about practically anything to do with crime?

I suppose it's not helped by non-deterent sentences.

We even seem to be welcoming terrorists with open arms.




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By johnjenkins
08th Nov 2011 10:42


This really is nothing new. In my day it was lead from churches. When times are tight you have to expect this sort of thing to happen. The police do not have the manpower to stop it. I'm afraid when poor people see large institutions making billions, the EU spending our money like water, there will be a backlash. If you think Greece is bad wait until Italy and Spain go and then, of course, the French will jump on the bandwagon. When you watch the politicians you can see they haven't got a clue. It tells you something when our police allowed the riots to happen with the proviso that with technology the violators would be caught later. Don't get me wrong I think our police do a great job but they are severly restricted by do-gooders and the like. What do we do with bully boys in the world we bomb them and kill them. What do we do with bully boys at home, give them compensation - all very wierd.

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