dividend image (calc and pen etc)The number of cases of serious tax evasion that HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has been investigating increased by 8% last year.

According to law firm Pinsent Masons, 2,972 cases were flagged up by local HMRC offices and passed on to its evasion referral team in 2015/16 – up from 2,749 the previous year.

 

Tax officials have stepped up activity partly in response to political pressure and public anger over high-profile tax controversies, following the Panama papers leak and criticism of HMRC’s handling of tax evasion allegations at HSBC’s Swiss banking arm.

HMRC was granted an extra £800m in the 2015 Summer Budget to invest in compliance and tax evasion, which it is expected to use to recover £7.2bn in unpaid tax by the start of the next decade. This increase in HMRC’s budget could result in the tripling of the number of criminal prosecutions for serious and complex tax crime within five years, to 100 a year.

Any firm or individual concerned that their tax position might be seen as compromising is likely to find that the tax authority looks more favourably on them if they come forward voluntarily to reach a solution. As always, HMRC’s message is the same: “if you’ve been cheating on your taxes, it always makes sense to come to us before we come for you”.

If you think you could be affected in any way, please contact us.