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Tax taskforces add £109m to public purse in six months

TAX TASKFORCES have brought in £109m over the past six months, HM Revenue & Customs has revealed.

The figure includes £64.9m recovered in the first three months of this year, more than double the figure for the same period in 2014.

Taskforces, designed to deter tax avoidance and evasion, usually operate in “short, sharp bursts of activity” in targeted areas of the country and perceived high-risk industries.

The aim is to induce traders in the target industries and areas to voluntarily come forward and settle any outstanding tax liabilities they might have by generating publicity in the local area. Compliance checks are carried out, as well as announced and unannounced visits.

Between April and October 2015, HMRC launched 27 taskforces targeting sectors that are at the highest risk of tax fraud, including income tax self-assessment repayments, retail, hidden wealth and grocery sectors: with one taskforce alone generating 22 arrests. A disclosure scheme for solicitors was launched this year. 

Taskforces were first launched in the spring of 2011 as part of HMRC’s compliance strategy to tackle tax evasion and fraud. Since then, around 100 taskforces have been launched since then yielding more than £404m in total.

HMRC director-general for enforcement and compliance Jennie Granger said: “The message is clear if you try to cheat on your tax we are going to catch you – it’s only fair that we all pay what we should to fund public services.

“We have increasing amounts of intelligence, and are using state of the art digital tools to help us to identify and target high risk areas. This yield of £109m – almost double the figure for the same period in 2014 – shows that our strategy is working.”

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