HMRC to merge specialist investigations and criminal investigations teams

TWO key investigations teams at HMRC are to merge in order to target serious tax crime more effectively, the taxman has confirmed to Accountancy Age.

The merger of its specialist investigations and criminal investigations will allow HMRC to “better share expertise and knowledge” and be “more effective in tackling the most serious tax crime,” HMRC said. 

It said the decision “is not about reducing staff or saving money” and that it doesn’t anticipate any major costs associated with the change.

The tax authority is undergoing a period of major change, and in June announced the allocation of £45m to improving its call centre performance, including hiring 3,000 people and reassigning another 2,000 from other areas of the department.

In 2014, it was announced 14 offices would be closed across the UK by December 2015, while 690 administrative staff were been invited to take voluntary redundancy. Upon that announcement, HMRC cited the automation and digitisation of many processes and the need to meet commitments to become “more highly-skilled and to operate from fewer locations” made in its spending review.

An HMRC spokesman said in a statement: “HMRC has started work to bring together its criminal investigation and special investigations teams into a new single directorate.”

Watt Busfield Tax Investigations founder Rebecca Busfield said: “HMRC have received much criticism this year about how they deal with wealthy tax fraudsters. The government also want to crack down harder on tax evaders and prosecute more cases.

“This merger should help HMRC take a more proactive, efficient and stricter approach with both teams working more closely and learning from each other. Anyone who has committed tax fraud should seriously consider making a voluntary disclosure.”

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