The Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT) has drawn attention to a significant escalation of HM Revenue and Customs’ (HMRC’s) attitude to tax defaulters. HMRC have announced that five plumbers have been arrested and around 600 are under civil investigation by for failing to pay the right amount of tax. This follows their ‘Plumbers Tax Safe Plan’ (PTSP) which provided an opportunity for plumbers and other taxpayers to come forward voluntarily and put their tax affairs in order.
Gary Ashford, who represents the CIOT on the Compliance Reform Forum, commented:
“This is further evidence that HMRC are entering a new phase with these disclosure campaigns. They have had limited success with the numbers coming forward in the recent medical and plumbers disclosure opportunities, so they are getting tough with those who didn’t register or disclose.
“People should not underestimate the amount of data that HMRC is holding. What we are now seeing is HMRC starting to use that information. The net is tightening on those who break the law.
“Anyone who is worried that they have been underpaying tax – whether deliberately or in error – should get professional advice without delay. There are a number of existing disclosure opportunities they may be able to take advantage of. Even if they are not covered by these, penalties will generally be less severe for taxpayers who come forward voluntarily to put their affairs in order with HMRC.
“Plumbers shouldn’t wait for a tap on the shoulder from the taxman before coming forward – and neither should anyone else. With HMRC targeting a five-fold increase in criminal prosecutions for evasion, the consequences of not clearing up tax irregularities could be grave.”
Notes to Editors
- HMRC’s announcement was made in a press statement issued today: ‘Ghost’ plumbers arrested in tax raids.