London lawyers have become the latest target in HMRC’s taskforce initiative as the Revenue widens its net totackle tax dodgers from hair and beauty businesses to the motor trade in Scotland.
HMRC has called the latest campaign an “intensive burst” of activity in specific high-risk trade sectors and locations, and is expected to bring in £19.5m.
In what appears to be a firmer and more Draconian approach to targeting the professions, the threat to accountants could be just around the corner.
Last October TAXtv presenter Giles Mooney predicted this possible outcome. He said he'd heard “rumours” that lawyers and accountants could be next in line: “HMRC already knows how many clients an accountant has and has an idea on fee structures, the Revenue's computer could easily check to see if an accountant's declared revenue was lower than expected.”
On the announcement this week, exchequer secretary David Gauke said: “We have made it clear that we will not tolerate tax evasion and we are determined to crack down on the minority who choose to break the rules. Everyone needs to pay the taxes they owe in full.
“It is not fair that at a time when most hard-working people are paying the right tax, others are trying to get out of paying what they should.”
Gary Ashford, who represents the CIOT on HMRC’s Compliance Reform Forum, said the range of groups targeted shows how widely HMRC are casting their net.
“The use of a taskforce tells us that HMRC have evidence of evasion in the sector that they are targeting. Lawyers are the first professional group to be covered by a taskforce. Previously doctors and dentists, and tutors and coaches have been covered by disclosure campaigns.”
Ashford added that it was clear HMRC is getting increasingly tough in their determination to reach their target of bringing in an extra £7bn over the parliament through initiatives to tackle tax avoidance, evasion and fraud.