HMRC raids on property have more than doubled over the past two years as a result of the push to tackle tax evasion, according to data obtained by law firm Pinsent Masons say Harris & Co chartered accountants Northampton who provide tax advice as part of their accountancy services to small businesses.
Its figures show a HMRC launched 445 property raids in the year to 31 March 2013, and 499 in the previous year. In contrast, it undertook just 196 such searches in 2010-11 and only 155 in the year before that.
Jason Collins, head of tax at Pinsent Masons, said: ‘We have seen almost no easing in the pace of HMRC property raids and arrests are actually continuing to rise. To keep up with its criminal prosecutions target, HMRC is no longer reserving its tougher tactics for just the very biggest evaders. It is increasingly targeting middle class professionals suspected of cheating HMRC out of smaller sums and so they are increasingly likely to be on the receiving end of HMRC’s raids.’
According to Pinsent Masons’ research, HMRC aims to prosecute 1,165 people for tax evasion in 2014-15, up from the 617 prosecutions that it says HMRC launched in the last year – itself a record number. This would be five times its 2010 target of 250 prosecutions.
HMRC has run a number of campaigns targeting particular groups over potential non payment of tax. Most recently the department is reported to have written to chief constables to request lists of police officers who have business interests outside of work. HMRC is now said to be checking that those police have declared any external income that they make, according to Pinsent Masons.