We have had a long period where HMRC have been quite inactive in terms of opening and conducting tax enquiries but we already know that this is changing.
The number of enquiries being opened is on the increase and HMRC have employed a new method of raising taxes on previously undisclosed income and gains. You may be aware that HMRC increasingly ask taxpayers to “own up” and have over the last couple of years run campaigns designed to:
- Help people to bring their tax affairs up to date
- Help them keep them that way, and
- Help stop them getting it wrong in the first place
To date HMRC have started 16 campaigns and 2 of the campaigns are currently still running:
- Second Incomes Campaign
- Let Property Campaign
What we can be assured of is that HMRC will continue to run campaigns and more will be announced over the coming year.
Anyone wishing to make a voluntary disclosure to HMRC can do so by contacting the Voluntary Disclosure Helpline between 8.00am and 6.30pm Monday to Friday, on 0845 601 5041. As Stated above we would recommend that professional advice be taken before any voluntary disclosure is made. In addition to the campaigns HMRC is staffing up its “enforcement and compliance” teams so that they can investigate more and open more enquiries based on information held. There are constant news headlines about potential cuts in HMRC staff of many thousands of civil servants.
The unions are actively seeking that the government to keep the staff and for them to simply be moved from the roles that HMRC now view as non essential, and to add them to the enforcement and compliance teams. Given the large amounts secured from the combined efforts of the campaigns and enquiries we should anticipate that this is a likely outcome, following which HMRC will be stepping up its activities in these areas for future years. HMRC statistics show that as at 31 December 2013 they have collected in excess of £580 million in tax from voluntary disclosures under the campaigns and a further £283 million from a large number of follow up activities. HMRC have a number of criminal investigations under way and eight people have been convicted of cheating the public revenue, with custodial sentences totalling in excess of 10 years handed down and leading to the recovery of almost £600K.