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East Anglia: HMRC begins crackdown on tax dodgers with the restaurant trade

PUBLISHED: 09:49 12 February 2014 | UPDATED: 09:50 12 February 2014

Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury David Gauke.

Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury David Gauke.

HM Revenue & Customs has today launched a taskforce to tackle tax avoidance in the restaurant sector across London and the East of England.

HMRC says it has seen an increased risk of fraudulent activity in the restaurant industry and the taskforce is expected to recover £3million across the target area, which includes Suffolk and Essex.

Taskforces are specialist teams that undertake intensive bursts of activity in specific high-risk trade sectors and locations in the UK, with teams visiting traders to examine their records and carry out other investigations.

David Gauke, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, said: “The people being targeted by these taskforces have no intention of playing by the rules. This Government has made it clear that we will not tolerate tax evasion and we have provided HMRC with the resources to crack down on those who break the law.”

HMRC has collected more than £130m as a result of taskforces launched since 2011 and expects to bring in more than £90m from taskforces launched in over the next 12 months.

Jennie Granger, HMRC’s director general of Enforcement and Compliance, said: “HMRC taskforces are deployed in sectors and areas where we’ve detected a high risk of tax evasion. If you haven’t declared all your income we will find you and investigate. Not only could you face a heavy fine, but a criminal prosecution as well.”

Another taskforce launched by HMRC today will target hidden wealth, including people with offshore accounts and those living lifetles beyond their obvious means, in East Anglia and London, and is expected to recover £2.4m.

A taskforce targeting hidden wealth had also been launched in south Wales, and another in the Midlands targeting the construction sector.

HMRC is currently running the third stage of an evasion publicity campaign, using traditional and non-traditional advertising, including radio, train car panels, washroom posters and mirror stickers.

The campaign works alongside existing compliance activity such as data collection, taskforces and enforcement to raise awareness among those breaking the rules that HMRC is closing in on undeclared income.

There is also an HMRC Tax Evasion Hotline, on 0800 788 887, which people can call to report anyone they suspect of tax evasion.

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