Construction firms in the North West are among the businesses targeted by new taskforces set up by HM Revenue & Customs.
A dozen taskforces will carry out investigations in the next 12 months, the first five taskforces announced this week will tackle tax evasion in the follow areas and sectors:
- Construction traders who are self employed or run their own company who suppress sales or over-claim expenses in the North West and North Wales
- Landlords – owning or renting three or more properties – evading their tax responsibilities in North West and North Wales
- Scrap metal dealers in Scotland, focusing on those who are deliberately suppressing their income or inflating expenditure to evade paying tax
- Taxpayers not submitting their statutory returns across Corporation Tax, Income tax Self Assessment, PAYE and VAT in the South East
- Fast food outlets deliberately falsifying their records and mis-declaring their true sales levels to avoid paying the correct taxes in Scotland
Taskforces are specialist teams that undertake intensive bursts of compliance activity in specific high risk trade sectors and locations across the UK.
David Gauke, the Exchequer Secretary, said: "We will not tolerate those who break the rules. This taskforce will come down hard on scrap metal dealers and their customers or suppliers who have chosen to break the rules or deliberately evade the tax they should be paying. This is just the start.
"It doesn't matter who you are – HMRC can and will track you down. You will face a heavy fine, a possible criminal prosecution and ultimately jail. Honest businesses have nothing to worry about.
"Taskforces are a direct result of the Government's £917m spending review re-investment to tackle tax evasion, avoidance and fraud, which aims to raise an additional £7bn each year by 2014/15."
Gabrielle McParlin, director of tax dispute and resolution group at Deloitte in Manchester, comments: "HMRC's announcement suggests that there are a significant number of landlords and construction traders in the region suspected of tax irregularities. HMRC has invested heavily in developing intelligence to ensure its resources are focused on sectors and locations where they have identified the largest risk of unpaid taxes.
"We can now expect intensive bursts of compliance activity focused on landlords and construction traders. Anyone who doesn't have their affairs in order will need to act quickly and seek expert professional advice to regularise matters, whilst minimising any statutory penalties."