Taxman ramps up property searches in evasion crackdown

PROPERTY SEARCHES by the taxman staff leapt to 499 – more than double on the previous year.

With extra resources to combat tax evasion, HM Revenue & Customs has stepped up the number of property searches it undertakes. In 2011/12, 499 property searches were undertaken, compared to 196 a year earlier. The taxman was allocated £917m to combat tax evasion and avoidance.

During the same period, there were 545 charges for evasion and 413 convictions in the 2011/12 tax year, a success rate of 92%. While the charges and convictions also relate to excise fraud, HMRC suggests that they are indicative of its success in combatting evasion.

The revenue loss prevented as a result of the investigations totalled approximately £940m.

A spokesman for HMRC said: “We have increased the number of properties we search to help deliver a fivefold increase in criminal prosecutions for tax evasion.”

As part of its wider crackdown against evasion, the taxman last month announced it would be sending out taskforces to target market stall-holders in London, taxi firms in Yorkshire and the East Midlands, restaurants across the Midlands and property rental businesses in East Anglia, the Northeast, Yorkshire and London.

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