Tax

UK Tax Collectors Raided More Properties In latest Financial Year To Hunt Evaders

Radhika Badiani 8 July 2014

UK Tax Collectors Raided More Properties In latest Financial Year To Hunt Evaders

Tax investigators raided 12 per cent more properties in the UK financial year for 2013/2014 than a year before, with a total of 500 searches, figures show.

Tax investigators raided 12 per cent more properties in the UK financial year for 2013/2014 than a year before, with a total of 500 searches, figures show.

The data, from Pinsent Masons, an international law firm, showed that HM revenue and Customs carried out more than three times as many property searches in the latest period than in the years from 2008 to 2011.

The research suggests HMRC raids are carried out during seasons when a suspect’s legal advisor might be away, with the objective to seize as many documents and computers as quickly as possible.

“HMRC is taking a huge effort to up the ante against tax evasion, raiding more properties and arresting more suspects to keep up with its criminal prosecutions target,” Jason Collins, head of tax, Pinsent Masons, said in a statement.

“HMRC are also casting their net wider, not only going after the very biggest suspected tax evaders but also increasingly targeting middle class professionals, like bankers and lawyers,” he added.

Raids on homes and businesses to seize evidence of tax evasion and to make arrests are now increasingly being used to supplement HMRC’s traditional methods of running tax investigations.

According to the report, a particular focus for HMRC is those who hide money offshore and it plans introduce a new "strict liability" offence of failing to disclose offshore income. Such a move, arguably, is a break with traditional English Common Law protections of individuals/institutions from an intrusive State.
“HMRC's hand will be strengthened even further if it is given the go ahead to do this. This would make it easier to get a warrant to raid a property, as HMRC would no longer have to show a court there are grounds to suspect an intent to evade tax, just that tax was due and not declared, even if it was an oversight or error on the part of the taxpayer,” Collins added.

"From 1 July, financial accounts (including interest in certain offshore trusts and companies) will become liable to reporting to HMRC. Tax evaders are very quickly realising that the places to hide are fast running out. HMRC is closing the net on suspected tax evaders and signing up offshore territories to ‘automatic information exchange’. Individuals and businesses who think they can escape HMRC’s anti-tax evasion drive should think again -and should come forward to use the current amnesties which provide immunity from prosecution,” the organisation said.

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