Tax task force raises extra £500 million from the wealthy

A special task force investigating the financial affairs of Britain’s wealthiest individuals has raised an extra £500 million tax.

HM Revenue & Customs set up the High Net Worth Unit (HNWU) to handle 5,000 of the country’s richest taxpayers – and has surpassed collection targets since launching three years ago.

HNWU head Martin Randall, said: “The tax affairs of the richest people in the country are, by their nature, complex, and that’s why we have focused resources on getting their tax right.

“The majority of the wealthiest taxpayers play by the rules, paying the right tax at the right time, but we take action against the minority who don’t. This approach has delivered the result we have announced today.

The unit was expected to bring in about £100 million a year but, in 2011-12, the tax yield hit £200 million, up from £162 million in 2010-11 and £83 million in 2009-10.

So far, £55 million has been raised in 2012.

HMRC chases late payers

Exchequer Secretary, David Gauke, said: “The figures show that HMRC’s High Net Worth Unit is making sure that the country’s wealthiest citizens pay the tax they owe. The government is committed to a fair tax system where those with the most contribute the most.

“The overwhelming majority of people pay their taxes, so it is absolutely right that HMRC pursues anyone who tries to avoid their responsibility.”

Meanwhile, thousands of  higher rate taxpayers who have failed to submit tax returns are receiving letters from HMRC reminding them that they have only one month left to take up an amnesty.

The Tax Return Initiative is aimed at those paying tax at rates of 40% and above who were ordered to file a tax return for 2009/10 or earlier, but have not done so.

They have until October 2 to tell HMRC they want to take part, submit completed returns, and pay the tax and any national insurance they owe.

By volunteering, taxpayers will receive lower penalty terms.

Taxpayers jailed

Marian Wilson, head of HMRC Campaigns, said: “If HMRC has sent you a tax return or notice to complete a tax return for 2009/10 or earlier and you have not yet taken any action, this campaign offers you a quick and straightforward way to bring your tax affairs up to date, but time is running out.“

HMRC campaigns have netted nearly £510 million from amnesties, and more than £120 million from more than 18,000 completed investigations. Two taxpayers have been jailed, another received a suspended sentence while 23 other  criminal cases are under way.

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