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HMRC targets VAT cheats

HMRC has announced an initiative to crack down on VAT rule breakers.
The new campaign will focus on individuals and businesses who are trading above the VAT threshold but who have not yet registered for VAT.

The initiative is being discussed with interested parties to ensure HMRC has as much information from them as possible before launching the campaign later in the summer.

Mike Wells, HMRC's director of risk and intelligence, said: 'Our aim is to get as much input as possible into our future campaigns so that the views and experience of people and organisations outside the department play a fuller part in what we design for customers. We are already in contact with a number of interested parties and I expect many more to contact us with their views before we finalise the design of the VAT initiative.

'This will be the model for all our future campaigns and we look forward to being even more open about the compliance activity HMRC is undertaking to ensure we reduce the tax gap and help customers pay what they owe.'

Each HMRC campaign is aimed at reducing the tax gap by focusing on areas where a significant underpayment has been identified. The department provides straightforward opportunities for customers to put their records in order on the best possible terms, followed immediately by activity focused on the non-compliant who choose not to take up the opportunity. HMRC has raised over £500 m from voluntary disclosures and a further £100 m so far from follow-up activity.

Previous campaigns have targeted offshore investments, medical professionals and people working in the plumbing industry. For each HMRC has used new technology and legislation to gather and analyse data, from internal and external sources, to identify people who should come forward. This has provided thousands more investigations, now being worked through, including a number of criminal investigations.

To join the VAT Initiative discussion, individuals, organisations or businesses should contact Nicky Prys-Jones (Nicola.j.prys-jones@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk).

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20 May 2011

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