Concern widens over HMRC powers

The taxman has angered advisers by proposing to ‘cherry-pick’ laws instead of
aligning tax crime investigations with other crimes as originally proposed.

In a new consultation, HM Revenue & Customs is seeking increased powers
of investigation, including the right for tax authorities to use digital
fingerprint readers on the spot to verify suspects’ identities.

John Cassidy, tax investigations partner at PKF, said HMRC’s apparent change
in tack will cause disquiet among tax advisers. ‘The document is disingenuous,’
he said. ‘It seems to pick and choose between applying the Police and Criminal
Act and other laws.’

Chris Sanger, head of tax policy at Ernst & Young, agreed it could create
concern, but said it was right to confront the issue. ‘It’s dangerous to assume
that the powers [used by Customs] are commensurate for use in other tax
investigations,’ he said.

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