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HMRC launches new task forces to tackle tax dodgers

Specialist teams, or task forces, have been set up to undertake intensive bursts of compliance activity in specific high-risk trade sectors and locations across the UK. The restaurant trade in London – followed by Scotland and the North West – are the first areas targeted.

The task forces are a result of the Government’s £900m spending review investment to tackle tax evasion, avoidance and fraud from 2011/12, which aims to raise an additional £7bn each year by 2014/15.

Mike Eland, Director General Enforcement and Compliance, said: “These task forces are a new approach that uses HMRC’s resources to identify and tackle rule-breakers and evaders swiftly and effectively.

“Only those who choose to break the rules, or deliberately evade the tax they should be paying, will be targeted. Honest businesses have absolutely nothing to worry about. But the message is clear – if you deliberately seek to evade tax, HMRC can and will track you down, and you’ll face not only a heavy fine, but possibly a criminal prosecution as well.”

Paul Roberts, head of tax investigations at business and financial advisers Grant Thornton UK LLP, commented: “"It remains to be seen how much these task forces will raise and indeed how HMRC will undertake this when it has had its own resources restricted during the spending cuts. However the message is clear; if there are businesses who are unclear whether they are in a vulnerable position, they would do well to seek advice as early as possible."

HMRC is planning a further nine task forces in 2011/12, with more to follow in 2012/13.

For further information visit www.grant-thornton.co.uk or www.hmrc.gov.uk

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