HMRC taskforces target industry to recover £16m

HMRC has announced the launch of four specialist taskforce initiatives around the country with the aim of recovering a total of £16m in unpaid tax.

The taskforces will target the haulage industry in the Midlands, which is expected to yield £3.5m, and the restaurant trade in Yorkshire and Humber, from which HMRC expects to recover £3.8m.

A third taskforce will cover all areas of the Scottish fishing industry, including tax evasion by crews, fishing vessel owners and fish processors, and is expected to recover £3.6m. As part of this initiative, HMRC says it will be working closely with Police Scotland, Immigration Enforcement, Border Force and the Gangmasters Licensing Authority in a multi-agency approach to identify occurrences of migrant labour abuse either through fraudulent access to benefits and public services or by exploitative employers.

HMRC expects its biggest haul, £5.5m, to come from the taskforce dedicated to tackling tax avoidance in the holiday industry in Blackpool, Lake District, North Wales, Devon and Cornwall.

David Gauke, the exchequer secretary to the Treasury, said: 'The government has made it clear that we will not tolerate tax evasion and we have provided HMRC with the resources to crack down on those who break the rules.'

Taskforces are specialist teams that undertake intensive bursts of activity in specific high-risk trade sectors and locations in the UK. The teams visit traders to examine their records and carry out other investigations, and have access to information from multiple sources. HMRC has collected more than £80m as a result of taskforces launched since 2011-12 and says it expects to bring in over £90m per year from taskforces launched over the next three years.

HMRC's Jennie Granger, director general enforcement and compliance, said: 'Our message is clear - if you seek to evade tax or defraud the tax system, HMRC can and will track you down. You will face not only a heavy fine, but possibly a criminal prosecution as well.'

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