Tax evaders in Scotland and Northern Ireland who fraudulently attempt to reclaim VAT are being targeted as part of HM Revenue and Customs’ (HMRC) latest crackdown on tax compliance.
HMRC has noted an increased threat of fraudulent VAT repayment claims in both Scotland and Northern Ireland and its VAT repayment taskforce is subsequently being rolled out to target individuals and businesses in a bid to reclaim £7 million.
The premise of specialist taskforce teams is to undertake intensive bursts of activity in specific high-risk trade sectors and locations across the UK. These teams visit traders on the spot and examine records, carrying out other investigations to try and catch out those who break the rules.
David Gauke, exchequer secretary to the Treasury, said: "This Government has made it clear that we will not tolerate tax evasion and has provided HMRC with the resources to crack down on those who break the rules.
"We are determined to support hardworking people who want to get on, but the people being targeted by these taskforces have no intention of playing by the rules."
To date, HMRC has recouped more than £90 million as a result of launching its taskforces since 2011-12. It is hoped the same taskforces will retrieve more than £90 million a year over the next three years.
Jennie Granger, director general of enforcement and compliance at HMRC, said: "It is really important that we level the playing field by stopping tax cheats. Deliberately falsifying VAT records can lead to imprisonment.
"Our message is – do the right thing. If you haven’t already, come clean now. If you don’t, we will find you, investigate you and, not only could you face a heavy fine, but you may face a criminal prosecution as well."
HMRC is appealing to residents in Scotland and Northern Ireland who know of anyone who is evading their taxes to notify the Tax Evasion Hotline on 0800 788 887.
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