The number of dawn raids carried out by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) as a consequence of tax evasion investigations has declined by around six per cent in the last 12 months.
The figure, obtained from HMRC by law firm Irwin Mitchell via the Freedom of Information Act, show that while the number of search warrants executed increased year-on-year from 2010 to 2013, only 744 warrants were executed in 2013-14 – a six per cent decrease.
Around 500 search warrants were issued between 1st April 2010 to 31st March 2011, with 731 in the subsequent year and a further 793 in 2012-13.
HMRC conducts dawn raids when they are in the process of a criminal investigation into suspected criminal activity. The level of dawn raids soared in 2011-12 when HMRC ramped up its tax evasion crackdown and increased its prosecution targets fivefold.
In 2012-13, 617 people were prosecuted by HMRC for tax evasion, up from 302 the previous year, after the department was given almost £1bn from efficiency savings to ensure taxpayers play by the rules.
Phil Berwick, contentious tax partner, Irwin Mitchell, said: “With increased prosecution targets, HMRC appear to be struggling with the number of raids conducted.
“At a time when you would expect the number of raids to continue increasing, they have reduced.
“The labour-intensive nature of raids will have an impact on the level of activity that HMRC can undertake.
“HMRC is being pulled in many different directions, which doesn’t help. The number of raids will need to increase significantly if HMRC is to achieve its target of 1,165 prosecutions for tax evasion in 2014/15.”
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