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HMRC turns attention to horsebox owners in evasion clampdown

HORSEBOX OWNERS dishonestly claiming horseboxes worth hundreds of thousands of pounds as company expenses are set to be the subject of HM Revenue & Customs investigation, as it continues its clampdown on tax evasion.

Top 50 firm UHY Hacker Young believes HMRC suspects some farmers and rural business owners of buying horseboxes through their company, either falsely claiming the cost as a business expense for tax purposes, or failing to declare personal use of the horsebox and paying tax on it as a “benefit in kind”.

Horseboxes can be valuable assets, with the one used by Zara Phillips at the 2012 Olympics valued at around £500,000 – albeit complete with capacity for six horses and its own bedroom, kitchen and living room and satellite television. There is no suggestion that Phillips has evaded tax.

HMRC officials can now identify connections and discrepancies between an individual or company’s official tax records and information from multiple third party sources via the department’s computer system, Connect.

UHY Hacker Young says that HMRC uses DVLA databases, and even Google Streetview, to monitor the lifestyle of suspected tax evaders.

UHY Hacker Young partner Charles Homan said: “Underpaid tax relating to horseboxes is a drop in the ocean but HMRC seems to be focussing attention in this area because they can now be such valuable assets.”

“It shows how determined HMRC are to close down every little loophole and capture every mistake made in tax returns. Without the correct documentation, even owners of horseboxes who have done nothing wrong could find themselves on the receiving end of a lengthy and uncomfortable tax investigation.”

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