Taxman gets tough on serious defaulters

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It seems that barely a day goes by without a new addition to HMRC’s arsenal in its war on tax avoidance.

Whether it’s targeting individuals with fast-growing income, those who fraudulently claim repayments, or even snooping on social media, it appears the Revenue will stop at nothing to bring people who fail to pull their weight to justice.

Now the taxman is flexing its muscles again by referring more delinquent individuals to its ‘managing serious defaulters’ programme. The scheme, described as being the equivalent to a school detention, sees HMRC place people under close scrutiny and monitor their future activities.

Figures obtained by accountants Baker Tilly shows that HMRC has used this tactic on 30% more occasions during the 2014-15 tax year than it did in 2013-14. The number has jumped from 4,624 to 6,051 over the period – while the figure was described as a “sharp increase” when compared to the 1,094 individuals referred in 2012-13.

Mike Down, head of tax investigations at Baker Tilly, said: “The increase in the numbers of people being referred to the managing serious defaulters programme signals that HMRC is getting much tougher on those who actively seek to sidestep their tax responsibilities.

“HMRC has significant monitoring powers and those individuals and businesses referred to the programme can find the experience extremely uncomfortable and onerous.”

Have your say

What do you think of the figures? Do you think HMRC is right to class more individuals as serious evaders? How do you think tax avoidance should be tackled? Join in the discussion on Twitter, or leave a comment below.