HMRC Steps Up Campaign Against Wealthy Brits

The British tax man has stepped up a campaign to encourage wealthy taxpayers to play by the rules.

HM Revenue & Customs is about to recruit another 100 inspectors for the Affluent Compliance Team – specialists who look in to the financial affairs of 300,000 taxpayers who earn more than £150,000 a year or have a net worth between £1 million and £20 million.

By the end of December 2012, the team had recovered £75 million in lost tax – and is tasked with bringing in an extra £586 million by the end of 2015.

Exchequer Secretary David Gauke said: “HMRC used some of the £917 million we made available in 2010 to train these teams. Uncovering £75 million in extra tax is just the start. The country would never have seen that money.

“Most people pay their way. Dodging tax is not moral, against the law and deprives others. Those who do not pay their way are discovering the error of their ways as the affluent compliance team begins to make an impression.”

Targets for tax inquiries

The team has 200 staff working as 17 teams in six locations across the UK.

The targets for investigations, says HMRC, are wealthy taxpayers who:

  • Sign up for avoidance schemes
  • Manage their taxes and pay a low rate of tax compared with the amount they earn
  • Bank in Switzerland and who appear to understate their tax liability
  • Fail to file tax returns on time
  • Avoid stamp duty when buying expensive property
  • Own investment property in the UK or overseas

Roger Atkinson, Director of the Affluent Teams, said: “We will recruit the new inspectors from our own ranks and from outside HMRC. The new team will be up and running by April and is targeted on uncovering an additional £75 million in tax a year.

“Good information is central to catching the tax cheats, so we are also quadrupling our Affluent Intelligence Unit.  This is great news for honest taxpayers.”

Pension unlocking crackdown

Meanwhile, HMRC has also increased action against pension unlocking schemes by setting up a team of investigators to police the sector.

“Pension unlocking schemes are giving retirement savers a headache as they are illegal and pile up tax problems for investors,’ said a spokesman.

“Scheme fees leave retirement savers taking the money out of their pensions early with a financial loss as well as fines and penalties over repaying tax relief on the contributions.”

In December 2011, The High Court ruled that pension unlocking was not legal.

The Financial Services Authority has also issued warned consumers about firms offering the service.

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