HMRC sets its sights on VAT rule-breakers

SPALDING-based chartered accountancy firm Moore Thompson is warning that HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has announced it is to target individuals and businesses who are trading above the VAT threshold but have not registered for VAT in a new drive against rule-breakers.

The campaign will be launched in the summer, following discussions with interested parties to help HMRC design the campaign. The VAT threshold is currently £73,000 turnover on a rolling annual basis.

Announcing the initiative, 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.”

Mark Hildred, managing partner at Moore Thompson, said, “Previous HMRC campaigns have targeted offshore investments, medical professionals and people working in the plumbing industry.

“The department says its campaigns focus on areas where it has identified significant underpayment and that they provide straightforward opportunities for customers to put their records in order on the best possible terms, followed by swift action targeting those who choose not to take up those opportunities”.

HMRC says it has raised more than £500 million from voluntary disclosures and a further £100 million so far from follow-up activity.

Meanwhile, the first of a series of new HMRC task forces to tackle tax dodgers will focus on the restaurant trade, targeting businesses in London over the coming weeks. The specialist teams will carry out concentrated compliance activity in specific high risk trade sectors and locations across the UK.