New taskforces to tackle VAT fraud
Two new specialist taskforce teams have recently begun to target businesses in north-west England and north Wales who try to fraudulently reclaim VAT. The taskforces are comprised of multiple teams from across HMRC including special investigations, local compliance and criminal investigation units for targeting specific sectors and locations where there is a high risk of tax evasion. In tandem with the launch of the new taskforces a man was arrested in the Welsh suburb of Rhyl on suspicion of VAT fraud, submitting false business records and money laundering.
Businesses that are fully compliant should have nothing to worry about, but any business that has deliberately evaded tax should be seriously concerned. HMRC has the legal power to conduct unannounced visits to business premises and inspect business records. The taskforces are expected to recover approximately £5 million across north-west England and north Wales. HMRC also reported that over £25 million has been recovered as a result of VAT repayments taskforces throughout the UK since 2012.
HMRC’s John Lyon, taskforce project lead within Specialist Investigations, said
‘HMRC taskforces operate in sectors and areas where we’ve detected a high risk of tax evasion. People being targeted by our taskforces have no intention of following the rules and could end up facing a heavy fine or even a criminal conviction.’