With HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) increasing its activity in tackling tax evasion, the number of property inspections has more than doubled in the 2011-12 tax year.
A freedom of information request by the law firm Pinsent Masons has shown the number of residential and business property inspections soared by 155 percent compared to 2010-11.
While 499 searches were carried out in 2011-12, 192 of these took place in the first quarter of this year – only four less than the total in 2010-11. Indeed, this is more than treble the previous highest quarterly figure.
The steep increase can be attributed to the new “delivery commitments” for HMRC and show the government is following through on its promises to get tough on tax evasion.
“We are already seeing positive results from these increased investigations and searches,” said HMRC.
“During 2011-12, criminal investigation activities resulted in 545 individuals being charged and 413 being convicted, with a success rate of 92 percent.”
Consequently, individuals using tax planning schemes need to be sure that they are not crossing the fine line between tax avoidance and tax evasion. Furthermore, anyone wishing to make use of the many disclosure opportunities provided by HMRC should ensure they don’t give the department any reason to start an investigation.