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'Ghost' plumbers arrested in tax raids

16 August 2011
Issue: 4318 / Categories: News , plumbers tax safe plan , THP , Admin
Pro body warns of tough approach by Revenue

HMRC have ramped up their efforts to stamp out tax evasion among trades people with the arrest of five 'ghost' plumbers and the launch of civil investigations into the fiscal affairs of around 600 individuals.

The clampdown comes as the 31 August deadline for payments to the plumbers tax safe plan (PTSP) approaches, and it signals the start of co-ordinated legal action expected to take place over the coming weeks in areas including Yorkshire, Kent, Cambridgeshire, Tyne & Wear, the Midlands and south Wales.

‘These raids and arrests of “ghosts” – people who have not declared income from the work they do – are the culmination of months of work,’ said John Pointing, assistant director of the Revenue’s criminal investigation division.

Some of the individuals caught in the first wave owe up to £150,000 to the taxman, having failed to register with the PTSP, the disclosure opportunity that invited plumbers, gas fitters, heating engineers and members of associated trades to declare unpaid taxes at a maximum penalty rate 20%.

‘We provided a chance for those we have arrested, and the 600 we are investigating, to come forward voluntarily and put things right. The arrests send a clear message that HMRC will take action against those who choose not to come forward and pay the tax they owe,’ added John Pointing.

The Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT) said the news marked a significant escalation of the Revenue’s attitude to tax defaulters.

The PTSP and its medical counterpart, the tax health plan, saw little success in their levels of response, claimed Gary Ashford, who represents the CIOT on HMRC’s compliance reform forum, and so the department is getting tough with those who didn’t register or disclose.

‘People should not underestimate the amount of data that HMRC is holding. What we are now seeing is the department starting to use that information. The net is tightening on those who break the law,’ added Mr Ashford.

‘With the taxman targeting a five-fold increase in criminal prosecutions for evasion, the consequences of not clearing up tax irregularities could be grave.’

Issue: 4318 / Categories: News , plumbers tax safe plan , THP , Admin
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