New taskforces target pubs, motors and salons

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HMRC this week announced four more taskforces, bringing the total number of active targeted compliance teams to around 20.

A high cash element is a common theme among many of the industries under scrutiny and Scotland continues to be fruitful territory for the tax department, with one of the new teams dedicated to investigating the highest risk tax evaders among Scottish pubs and nightclubs.

The regional focus appears to be expanding to include Northern Ireland, where hair and beauty businesses will be targeted, with an anticipated increase in tax revenue of £2.5m.

South Wales and the South West are being brought into the loop with the addition of teams looking into both restaurants and the motor trade. In addition to the western regions, the motor industry taskforce will scrutinise companies operating in Yorkshire, Notts and the North East. In total the motor industry taskforce is expected to recover more than £22m.

The restaurant taskforce targeting establishments in South Wales and the South West is expected to recover around £5m. A similar group set up in May to concentrate on the Midlands is anticipating a yield of £2.5m.

The four taxforces announced this week will recover more than £30m, HMRC claimed. The department said the yield from the 12 taskforces launched in 2011-12 is more than £50m, bringing the total projected return to £80m, but conclusive figures are proving difficult to pin down. The amount reported in official HMRC press releases is around around £20m-£25m, and more detailed figures for all the taskforces are being sought. 

For the department as a whole, HMRC reported in its 2011-12 annual accounts that investigations raised more than £1bn.

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About John Stokdyk

John Stokdyk is the global editor of AccountingWEB UK and


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08th Jul 2012 17:53

Don't you just love

these figures being bandied about as if they were true.

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08th Jul 2012 20:11

I had a pub client

Hmrc bankrupted them for £500k.

How much did HMRC get back?

Not one penny.

Had they asked me I could have saved them the effort.

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09th Jul 2012 09:13

wonder whether they included

the 500k within the 'recovered' amounts...

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09th Jul 2012 12:14

Why were they trading?

How on earth could a pub get to owe £500K to HMRC, and what advice was the accountant giving to stop a debt of such level arising?

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By ds
09th Jul 2012 12:57

Well good luck to them...

...In Scotland, cos they're gonna need it ! The amounts they clain they are going to recover seem small fry and I'm sure the costs of doing so will probably exceed this as with the Child Support Agency and their state meddeling.

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09th Jul 2012 13:29

Benefits to Peter but no income to Paul ?

This compliance of HMRC brings about an interesting debate.

Whilst as accountants we have to back HMRC's enforcement of the law, at the same time, there are many pubs operating who are not declaring their full taxes and vat.

Were they to do this they would not continue to operate. Yes, they are existing by diverting HMRC's monies into their own pocket (which is theft) but one has to remember it is called the black ECONOMY i.e it is an ECONOMY and when these places shut down, because they cant pay their taxes, this ECONOMY ceases to exist and many families are affected with the loss of the income as they no longer work there.

In some cases, not all, these then go back to claiming benefits.

So, the taxman has caught a tax dodger :-) only to have to pay one more benefit claimant :-(

Not so much a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul as "benefits to Peter but no income to paul"?

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09th Jul 2012 13:57


In recent months 2 of my clients, both hairdressers, have had tax inspections. these caused lost business as the proprietors had to spend several hours with the inspectors who apparently had an allotted timespan for the investigations, and were going to use it to the full. In the meantime dozens of unregistered hairdressers in the area were not contacted, and when told of this the inspectors said this was not within their remit

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By ds
09th Jul 2012 15:05

Send them a bill ...

And in the two hairdresser cases were any unpaid taxes found? If not why not send HMRC a bill for the lost business and pursue it through the small claims court if they refuse to pay promptly. For cash businesses such as hairdressers, proving such evasion is surely difficult once the money has been spent, and most hairdressers I know do like their holidays in the sun.

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to Portia Nina Levin
25th Oct 2012 13:04

yeah send them a bill


And in the two hairdresser cases were any unpaid taxes found? If not why not send HMRC a bill for the lost business and pursue it through the small claims court if they refuse to pay promptly. For cash businesses such as hairdressers, proving such evasion is surely difficult once the money has been spent, and most hairdressers I know do like their holidays in the sun.

To my thinking, HMRC would receive better results by employing people, from the unemployment register  if required, to tackle the problem at the root. Many small firms, and some not so small, are not even registered for self employment.

Recent cases impacting on my clients;

A hairdresser who could not compete with unregistered hairdressers in the vicinity.

A cleaning firm which was at a disadvantage from an unregistered cleaning firm with premises on the High street.

A plasterer who went out of business as he could not compete with Council workmen who were moonlighting.

These staff could call at premises where there are possible risks; scan newspaper adverts and those placed in shop windows or on lamp posts, asking for UTR numbers.

The mere fact that such a campaign were running would, no doubt, elicit many registrations. 

I have reported a few such firms to the Hot Line, but that appears to be fairly tepid.

i can add to that a bunch of second car traders 


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09th Jul 2012 23:25

Go after the avoiders and leave the evaders alone


There is no smoke without fire but unfortunately there is no smoke without cigarettes. You take for example Wetherspoons. They are not going to be on the fiddle. They are also clever enough to develop strategies to combat the downturn in pub trade due to the smoking ban.


Now you take the Independent pub/ private members club. Their customers are the smokers who are not coming as often as they used to. These businesses are struggling. These are the businesses HMRC are going to attack because they feel they are on the fiddle.

Make Phil Green and other avoiders pay their tax and the HMRC can leave these struggling businesses to fiddle their way to survival.

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10th Jul 2012 09:21

All the black economy

does, in this country, is to bypass HMRC once or twice. In the end they don't get their money because the large corporates, who end up with the money, have it sifted away abroad. That won't change if you end the black economy. Yes HMRC will have more but more will have to be paid out on benefits etc.

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10th Jul 2012 11:19

Why trading?

1. Pub co tenants with nowhere else to go and no assets

2. cash income - enough (just) to rob Peter to pay Paul ad infinitum

Their accounatant did tell them for years that the situation was untenable, but like your doctor I can't be blamed if you continue to smoke when advised to quit!

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