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HMRC launches new task forces to tackle tax dodgers

HM Revenue & Customs is creating a raft of new task forces to target tax evaders by industry.

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The tax authority said its new specialist teams will “undertake intensive bursts of compliance activity in specific high risk trade sectors and locations across the UK”.

The first of these new task forces will focus on the restaurant trade, targeting businesses in London over the coming weeks, HMRC said in a statement.

The restaurant trade in Scotland and the North West will be the next areas targeted. A further nine task forces are planned to be created in 2011/12, with more to follow in 2012/13, HMRC said.

Spending review

The new HMRC task forces are the result of a UK Government commitment, unveiled in its spending review last October, to earmark £900m in an effort to claw back around £7bn lost to tax evaders annually by 2014/15.

Mike Eland, HMRC’s director general enforcement and compliance, said the new task forces represented a “new approach” on the part of HMRC that will utilise its 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.”

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