HMRC are looking for more ways to bring out "ghost" tax evasion by the use of Hidden Economy Teams to track down individuals who have not registered for tax.
The Hidden Economy Teams were formally set up in 2003 to find information about low level tax evasion and people who were not in the tax system. The principle behind the Hidden Economy Teams is that they scour publicly available information to try to find people who are committing low level tax evasion. This can be from a variety of sources such as newspapers, the internet and other such media.
The Hidden Economy teams will obtain this data and then search the HMRC database to see if they can find a tax record for the individual or business. If they are unable to do so they will automatically assume that the individual is probably guilty of tax evasion.
The usual method of contact to what the Hidden Economy teams consider to be tax evading individuals is by letter. The first that the individual will know about this is when they receive a letter suggesting that HMRC have information which suggests that the individual may not have declared all of their income and asking them to make contact with the Hidden Economy Team.
Since the formation of the Hidden Economy Teams in 2003 they have undertaken over 30,000 Inland Revenue Investigations per year and according to statistics available on government websites have generated additional tax etc as a result of tax evasion of over £145 million pounds.
As a result of the merger between HM Customs & Excise and the Inland Revenue the Hidden Economy team have also been targeting businesses where they believe that VAT is due but not paid. Their remit is also soon to be rumoured to cover tax credits.
The success in respect of the Hidden Economy Teams (as viewed by the HMRC) is that they are a relatively cheap way of raising a tax investigation into relatively low level omissions or businesses failing to notify HMRC of their liability to tax.
Recently the Hidden Economy Teams have been active in visiting the business premises of individuals or their homes to ask questions relating to their tax affairs in order to start an Income Tax Investigation.
We were approached by an individual who had been working for himself for over 10 years and who had never declared his income to HMRC...read more...
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