The holiday industry in East Anglia, people in London claiming VAT repayments they are not entitled to and Northern Ireland’s restaurant trade are being targeted by new HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) taskforces.
Launched on 13 May, the taskforces are seeking to recover £2.5 million in East Anglia, £2.9 million in Northern Ireland and more than £7.5 million in London, while also preventing further fraudulent repayments in the future.
David Gauke, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, said the taskforces were targeting people who were not “playing by the rules.”
Jennie Granger, HMRC’s director, general enforcement and compliance, said: “Most people and businesses voluntarily comply, so it is important we deal firmly with those who don’t.
“Using our award-winning tool, Connect, which brings together over 30 different sources of information, we are able to target specific industry sectors and geographical areas that present the highest risk of tax fraud.
“The message is clear – if you choose to defraud the tax system or seek to evade tax, we can and will track you down. You will face not only a heavy fine, but possibly a criminal prosecution as well.”
Taskforces are specialist teams that carry out intensive bursts of activity in specific high-risk trade sectors and locations in the UK. The teams may visit traders to examine their records and carry out other investigations.
Taskforces are a result of the government’s £917 million spending review investment to tackle tax evasion, avoidance and fraud from 2011-12, which aims to raise an additional £7 billion each year by 2014-15.