Raymond Doherty 8 Aug 2017 04:02pm

HMRC ramps up dawn raids on tax evaders

The number of raids carried out by the Revenue has increased by 34% over the last five years

As part of HMRC’s crackdown on white-collar tax evasion, it has launched 669 in 2016/17 compared to 499 in 2011/12, according to research from law firm Pinsent Masons.

Overall, the total number of property raids undertaken by HMRC rose 8% last year, from 1,449 in 2015/16 to 1,563 in 2016/17.

The Revenue, says Pinsent Masons, is under pressure to increase the number of successful tax evasion prosecutions and has been granted more resource to do so.

Also, a new corporate criminal offence of failure to prevent the facilitation of tax evasion comes into force on 30 September, which will give HMRC new powers to prosecute companies and partnerships.

“HMRC has shown it is not afraid to come down hard on large corporates it suspects of tax evasion – obviously, the reputational impact of dawn raids can be devastating,” said Jason Collins, head of tax at Pinsent Masons.

“Banks and professional services companies have a high risk of their staff or agents being involved in tax evasion, because of the large amount of capital handled by them. However, the new offence applies to all sectors, and all companies should be aware of how they may be affected.

“Despite political pressures tightening their squeeze on HMRC, numbers of property raids remain high – raiding property is a vital way for HMRC to get hold of the crucial evidence it needs. HMRC continues to use all the weapons in its arsenal to target tax evaders, including production orders,” added Collins.

The research found that HMRC is also increasingly using Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 notices to compel third party individuals to attend an interview and provide information.