THE NUMBER of wealthy tax avoiders who could attract HM Revenue & Customs' scrutiny is set to rise sharply after the department announced its intention to double the size of its Affluent Unit.
The team will be hiring about 100 additional inspectors, bringing the headcount up to more than 200, while plans have also been put forward to widen its remit.
In addition to taxpayers with an annual income of more than £150,000 and wealth of between £2.5m and £20m, the unit's scope will also take in those in the £1m to £2.5m range.
The move will see the number of wealthy individuals under the unit's remit hit approximately 500,000, according to HMRC estimates, while the Treasury believes it had brought in an additional £75m in tax by the end of December, ahead of expectations. It has now set a target of gleaning £586m by the end of 2015.
Director of the Affluent Unit Roger Atkinson said: "We want to recruit people with external experience and appropriate qualifications for inspector and lead case director roles. We want people with recent commercial and corporate experience in personal tax to help us understand our customer base."
PKF tax investigations and dispute resolutions partner John Cassidy added: "Overall, the government's strategy of investing £917m to help HMRC increase annual tax yields by £7bn appears to be delivering results ahead of schedule, so it's logical to bolster this area in the short term. Couple that with continued public anger with those who are perceived to not be paying their fair share of tax, and this is something of a no-brainer."
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