Share this content
Temptation on Bourbon Street

HMRC taskforce to expose adult industry

4th Dec 2015
Share this content

HMRC has today announced a focus on the assets of strippers, escort agencies and lap dancing clubs, with the creation of a new ‘adult entertainment’ taskforce.

The taskforce will swing into action immediately, with an HMRC spokesperson confirming an initial target of raising £2.5m in unpaid tax from the adult industry.

For the first time HMRC will probe the tax affairs of traders and entertainers, some of whom allegedly earn thousands of pounds a day without registering for VAT, Income Tax and PAYE.

In 2010 the tax authority estimated that the adult entertainment industry was worth up to £5bn in the UK alone, citing the rise of the internet as a major factor behind this.

Commenting on the taskforce announcement Head of HMRC Taskforces Jim Stevenson said: “Large numbers of people working in this industry are paying the tax they owe and don’t have anything to worry about. The people targeted by this taskforce have no intention of playing by the rules, and we won’t tolerate this.”

More than 140 HMRC taskforces have been launched since 2011 and have collected more than £404m, including £109m brought in during the first six months of this financial year.

Areas previously examined by HMRC taskforces for not declaring sales income include Ann Summers parties, mobile phone apps, eBay traders and private tutors. 

Replies (17)

Please login or register to join the discussion.

By Francois Badenhorst
04th Dec 2015 19:06

I feel it necessary to congratulate my colleague.

Great article - and that iStock image! Cheers, Tom. 

Thanks (2)
Chris M
By mr. mischief
04th Dec 2015 20:43

Application form please

I would like to join the team, please HMRC.  I will gladly examine the assets and probe into all potential wrongdoers in the sector.

Thanks (2)
Glenn Martin
By Glenn Martin
05th Dec 2015 16:45

@ Mr Mischief
If you need someone to witness any dancers you are checking out give me shout.

Thanks (0)
By carnmores
05th Dec 2015 17:39

puns in the title and in the first sentence

defo in the christmas spirit

I don't think HMRC need any help from you two !

Thanks (1)
By thegreatgrumbleduke
05th Dec 2015 17:56

Did Finbarr Saunders write this?

Thanks (3)
By jon_griffey
06th Dec 2015 11:04

Benefits in kind
I wonder if the hmrc officers in the task force will get to make test purchases? Might need to go on their p11d.

Thanks (0)
By thomas34
06th Dec 2015 13:56

"Assets of Strippers"

Would these be counted as tangible fixed assets and if so should they be brought into the business at market value? 


Thanks (1)
By jvenegas16
06th Dec 2015 16:40

Organised crime

Will that include checking the tax affairs of organised crime, drug traffickers, terrorists, human traffickers, money launderers, etc? 

Thanks (0)
By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
07th Dec 2015 10:03


I am afraid Tom has fallen for the HMRC spin. 

It is not at all "for the first time" HMRC have gone after this sector.  It used to be a common one to target,v its just HMRC  largely stopped doing tax investigations for small businesses full stop.

My understanding is that run of the mill sex workers do pay their taxes, indeed most accountants will have a client, or at least been approached by one, who is a "dancer" or some other euphamism, albeit maybe not the ones who snigger at the back of class about it. 

Similarly if you deal with online retail to any degree you will struggle not to have at least one client with an adult themed site on your books, or at least been offered to quote on it.

Thanks (1)
By Tom Herbert
07th Dec 2015 10:38

Thanks @ireallyshouldknowthisbut...

... I'm always happy to be enlighted. When I spoke to HMRC on Friday the general gist seemed to be that it was the first time that a specific 'taskforce' had been established to look at the adult entertainment industry. On that admittedly narrow criteria they may be justified in making that claim. If anyone knows if that isn't the case please feel free to correct me.

Thanks (0)
paddle steamer
07th Dec 2015 10:56

No idea about taskforce

No idea about a taskforce but I do vaguely recall, many years ago, reading  a news story about one of HMRC's inspectors who "helped" a lady with her tax affairs in exchange for her "helping" him with other matters.

Cannot recall the exact outcome/ names but think he ended up on a diet of oatmeal.

Thanks (0)
By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
07th Dec 2015 11:08


@tom it will no doubt be the first time the taskforce has been used, but thats only because they are a new idea.


Thanks (1)
By Tom Herbert
07th Dec 2015 11:32


... There's also an article to be written about the actual effectiveness of these taskforces, but that's for another day!

Thanks (0)
By AndyC555
07th Dec 2015 11:43


Back in the late 1980s when I was a fairly new Inspector, my office decided to go after sex workers, helped by a couple of police constables who had lists of names and addresses.  Apparently the police thought it might make the workers move on elsewhere if the tax man came after them.

Anyway about 6 months later the female police constable ended up in a double-page spread in the NoW in her underwear having swapped careers when she saw how much money she could make as a sex worker. 

Those sex workers who did return their income often described themselves in their tax returns as "seamstresses"

Thanks (3)
By Justin Bryant
08th Dec 2015 10:12

I'm sure

Plenty of well massaged figures will be come across. 

Thanks (2)
By Kingfile
08th Dec 2015 13:55

They should inspect the bouncers ......

...... I mean the doormen at clubs that demand cash from the girls for "protection services". I acted for a number of such girls in the past and they all complained of how much was taken from them in this way.

Thanks (1)
09th Dec 2015 14:13

I think most of the comments are missing the point. Potentially loads of new clients looking for accountants and before anyone says anything, I mean looking for accountants as accountants and not clients so get busy signing them up before some other accountant does.

Thanks (0)