Tax evasion unit follows behind amnesty for all

HM Revenue & Customs has followed up its opening of a new disclosure facility that offers reduced penalties for those who come clean on undeclared income by assembling a taskforce to tackle tax evasion.

Unveiling what tax observers will see as the ‘carrot’, HMRC last month said an amnesty designed for plumbers to disclose what they owe at a lower penalty rate of 10% was effectively available to all other taxpayers.

Yesterday came the ‘stick’ – the launch of the first in a series of tax evasion taskforces from HMRC, each with a sector-specific focus but collectively aiming to return £7bn (-assuming the tax owed from HMRC’s targeting of avoidance and fraud is also recouped). 

Although taxpayers might not like the Revenue’s carrot and stick approach, their advisers were cautiously supportive of the taskforces, saying a more targeted clampdown on “law-breakers” was welcome.

The Chartered Institute of Taxation added: “HMRC have a range of sources of evidence available to them and we assume that they have been doing their homework so they can target their anti-evasion efforts.

“Careful targeting is needed, as the one fear with this initiative is that those who make genuine mistakes over their tax affairs might be caught up in this drive.”

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