Small business owners warned over huge HMRC cash-grab

Tax officials recouped a staggering £248 million in unpaid tax in the year to April.

This is according to new figures from HMRC, which has ramped up its activities through the establishment of area or industry-specific taskforces.

The groups, built up over the last five years, have so far netted the Revenue some £540 million. This income stream has increased tenfold since 2010.

‘Smart data’ used to catch culprits

HMRC says it is using so-called ‘big data’ systems to dramatically reduce the potential for tax evasion. It follows a HMRC reorganisation that resulted in numerous closed offices and a focus on data technology.

Jennie Granger, the Revenue’s director of enforcement, said: “Our expert analysts are at the cutting edge of developing and exploiting intelligence and smart data to tackle those who try to cheat the system.”

She continued: “Come forward now. If you don’t pay what you should, we will take action.”

Particular industries targeted

The taskforces target specific industries or geographic areas in short bursts of activity. They have taken aim at restaurants in London, the motor trade in Yorkshire, the hair and beauty industry in north east England, and many more.

HMRC believes that it can identify the areas most at risk of evasion using Connect, a huge computer system that aggregates information from government organisations and British and international banks.

How do you feel about HMRC’s methods for recouping unpaid tax? Tell us in the comments.

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