Taxman given more search and seizure powers

The government has awarded tougher powers of search and seizure to tax
inspectors and other Revenue & Customs staff.

But the use of the powers provided under the Serious Organised Crime and
Police Act, which came into force in April, is limited to cases where their use
has been sanctioned by the new Revenue & Customs Prosecution Office (RCPO).

The move was revealed in identical statements in parliament by the attorney
general Lord Goldsmith and paymaster general Dawn Primarolo.

The powers had been delayed while a review of their use by HMRC officials was
undertaken. The review focussed on how much of the old Customs powers could be
transferred over to former Inland Revenue officers.

Statements in the review stressed the new powers are RCPO’s to use, but
added: ‘the prosecutor can authorise use of the powers by an officer of HMRC in
respect of tax offences where the prosecutor has decided that such use is

The powers are now available for use by RCPO in respect of tax offences. They
concern the serving of disclosure notices, obtaining material, conducting
compulsory interviews and executing search warrants.

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