HMRC target the wealthy

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HMRC is stepping up its campaign to prosecute wealthy professionals who have attempted to evade tax, in the wake of the successful prosecution of a senior barrister for failure to make VAT payments, reports Harris & Co small business accountants.

Queen’s Counsel Rohan Pershad was convicted earlier this month of cheating the public revenue by failing to pass on more than £600,000 in VAT payments from his clients over a 12 year period. He is due to be sentenced tomorrow and faces up to 10 years in jail.

In an interview with the Times Donald Toon, HMRC’s head of criminal investigations, said the case was a warning to other professionals involved in tax evasion that ‘you will be caught and dealt with’.

Toon said that some wealthy lawyers, doctors and accountants have avoided paying tax because they thought HMRC would not catch them or would not take criminal action if it did. He stated that the Pershad conviction showed ‘no matter your professional status, you can face criminal investigation and prosecution.’

Toon said HMRC is aiming for charges against 565 individual tax evaders this year, up from 165 two years ago, with the expectation of increasing this to 1,165 charges by 2015. HMRC has another case against a barrister coming to court next month, he said, and other criminal cases against wealthy offshore account-holders were in the pipeline, although he declined to give details.

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