Plumbers campaign yields £328,000

THE CAMPAIGN TO target people in the plumbing trade has yielded £328,756 from voluntary disclosures, Accountancy Age can reveal.

The Plumbers Tax Safe Plan offered lower penalties for people disclosing their tax affairs. It closed on 31 May and HM Revenue & Customs confirmed that around 600 people had come forward. There was some ambiguity as to whether the opportunity was available to non-plumbers, but HMRC does not currently have data about how many of the 600 are in the plumbing trade.

The taxman will begin enquiries into 500 people in the profession, it said, to be followed by “thousands” more.

A HMRC spokesman said: “We’re delighted with the outcome of the plumbers’ campaign. Significant amounts of previously unpaid tax will now be collected.

“Next week – acting on behalf of all honest taxpayers – we will follow up by opening investigations into 500 cases with thousands more to follow.”

However, John Cassidy, tax investigations partner at PKF, said the figures were disappointing.

“The first thought was what a tiny amount,” he said. The “only cases” he had seen were non-plumbers, he added.

“Conducting 500 enquiries followed by 1000s more, will be some task. I am sure they will not be investigations. I think they will be self-certification for plumbers. I cannot see how they can do thousands more,” he said.

Gary Ashford, national head of tax risk at RSM Tenon, said: “They are clearly a bit disappointing but I am not surprised. HMRC needs to look carefully at how to engage with that sector. They will probably have to take an old fashioned policing approach.

“I would be surprised if there weren’t some quick criminal investigations taking place. They’ll rely on a handful of investigations to get the word out.”

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