Customs to become less confrontational

Under its new approach, it is to reach agreement with traders on the nature, extent and reason for VAT irregularities in all ‘suitable’ cases.

The new method is aimed at enabling Customs to maximise anti-fraud resources.

Customs minister, Paul Boateng said: ‘We are determined to crack down on VAT evasion, but in a sensible, practical way that is more effective and cost efficient to everyone involved. Under this new approach, we will be able to handle cases more efficiently, to the benefit of us all, secure more revenue, stop the fraud at the earliest opportunity and ensure a better deal all round.’

The procedures will run parallel to the existing civil evasion procedures. The more efficient arrangements for tackling VAT evasion will benefit traders by:

-Having meetings with Customs, rather than taped formal interviews

-Lower penalties for those who fully co-operate

-No investigation during the period of disclosure

-No switching to criminal proceedings (unless a materially falsedisclosure is produced)

-Joint disclosure to Customs and Inland Revenue should reducetrader’s costs

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