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HMRC high net worth team nets £85m in first year

An HMRC team targeting HNW individuals suspected of tav evasion has netted £85m in its first year

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The figure is more than three times the amount collected by its predecessor, known as the Complex Personal Returns (CPR) team, in an average year, according to figures obtained by tax law firm McGrigors under the Freedom of Information Act.

The High Net Worth Tax Unit was created in 2009 and has a tighter focus than the CPR. McGrigors said the fact it is targeting a smaller segment of taxpayers but had managed to collect significantly more taxes demonstrated HMRC’s increasingly aggressive approach to investigating tax evasion and avoidance.

Jason Collins, head of private wealth at McGrigors, said: “HMRC has been stepping up its compliance activity focusing on wealthy taxpayers over the last few years. With the pressure on HMRC to maximise the tax take and reduce the budget deficit, wealthy individuals whose tax affairs are not in order will increasingly be in the firing line.”
 
He added that HMRC’s increasingly used tactic of closing down tax avoidance schemes, so that what is legal one year is illegal the next, may also have played a part in the additional revenues generated by the HNW team.

“This has undoubtedly caught some people out, particularly if they did not review their affairs after loopholes were closed,” said Collins.

He added that in recent months HMRC had been scrutinising stamp duty avoidance schemes marketed to wealthy individuals.

“Schemes which take advantage of the difference between the top income tax rate and the capital gains tax rate by converting income to gains in order to avoid the 50p tax rate are also under the microscope,” said the lawyer.

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