Recent research by law firm Pinsent Masons has shown that the number of raids on businesses’ premises by HMRC has trebled since 2010 – a statistic that reflects on a refreshed campaign of zero tolerance for tax evasion.
This year alone, around 600 properties have been raided, bringing HMRC over the halfway mark to their target of 1165 tax evasion prosecutions in 2015. It is believed that reaching this target could see even more recouped money than the 2013/2014 tax year, which saw £23.9bn recovered from tax evasion.
In recent years, tax evasion has found itself in the public spotlight following the behaviour of several multinational firms; HMRC were awarded additional powers of prosecution in order to address the issue. The reported jump in the number of premises being raided by HMRC has also come alongside an increase in the number of tax evaders being given a custodial sentence – with a 30% increasesince 2011 (171 offenders to 220 in 2014).
The raids are a means to gather evidence to assist HMRC in their ongoing criminal investigations into tax evaders, and provides a chance to collect such evidence before it is disposed of, while supporting their case against tax evaders.
Speaking on the increase, Pinsent Masons’ tax director – Paul Noble – pointed out that the numbers show that HMRC is ‘casting its net wider’ and focusing not just on the biggest offenders, but also targeting the broader range of tax payers. Even minor offenders who once slipped through the crack are being investigated.
If anything, this stricter show of force and demonstration of HMRC’s powers should prove to be a successful deterrent for future perpetrators of tax evasion, and will hopefully see numbers drop in the not too distant future.
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