HMRC clamps down on tax cheats

Ivan Walker, partner at Stephenson Smart & Co

HMRC have announced that they will be launching new campaigns over the next year targeting VAT defaulters, private tutors and e-marketplaces.

Ivan Walker, partner at Peterborough accountancy firm Stephenson Smart & Co told us, “HMRC have announced that they will use more IT, such as ‘web robot’ software, to search the internet and find targeted information about specified people and companies.  They are extending the current campaigns to focus on those who provide private tuition and coaching, e-commerce businesses and trades which build on HMRC’s plumbers campaigns.”

HMRC say they can use the software to pinpoint more accurately people who have failed to pay the right tax. The software, used with HMRC’s Connect computer system, also helps find people who are trading without telling HMRC.

The Connect computer system alerts HMRC to previously invisible tax evasion by matching a vast amount of HMRC and third-party data. It can identify previously hidden relationships, uncovering anomalies between such elements as bank interest, property income and lifestyle indicators before homing in on unexplained inconsistencies.

HMRC announced last month that a campaign targeting VAT rule-breakers trading above the £73,000 turnover threshold but who have not registered for VAT will be launched in the summer.

Mike Wells, HMRC’s director of risk and intelligence, said, “By being open about our areas of interest for the coming year we hope to maximise that exchange of information and ensure we reduce the tax gap and help customers pay what they owe. We will use the information we gather to pursue people who choose not to use the opportunities we provide for them to put their affairs in order on the best possible terms. It will be more expensive if we come and find people, so I urge them to come forward and disclose voluntarily.”

For more information and guidance on your tax liabilities, contact Stephenson Smart & Co on 01733 343275 or visit