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HMRC to scrutinise the tax affairs of lawyers, barristers and others

What do the legal profession (in London), grocers and retailers (in South and North Wales, the North West and the South West), hairdressers (in the North East), motor dealers (in Scotland), and


What do the legal profession (in London), grocers and retailers (in South and North Wales, the North West and the South West), hairdressers (in the North East), motor dealers (in Scotland), and restaurants (in the South East and Solent) have in common?

The not so obvious answer is that they are all viewed by HMRC as high-risk sectors and locations for "tax dodging".

It was announced on 18 September 2012 that they will be targeted by an  HMRC taskforce that tackles tax dodging.  HMRC has launched 30 taskforces since May 2011.  Taskforces are specialist teams of HMRC officers that undertake intensive bursts of activity in specific sectors and locations; the teams visit taxpayers, examine their records, and carry out investigations.

David Gauke, the Exchequer Secretary, said:




We have made it clear that we will not tolerate tax evasion and we are determined to crack down on the minority who choose to break the rules. Everyone needs to pay the taxes they owe in full. It is not fair that at a time when most hard-working people are paying the right tax, others are trying to get out of paying what they should.

The sentiment is uncontroversial.  Whilst it is perhaps surprising that the legal profession are considered to be a high-risk category, given their professional obligations and given that tax evasion would be a career-ending activity, tax evasion is unlawful whoever partakes in it.

However, whether the targeting of taskforces is always accurate is a very different issue.  Being the subject of a visit from an HMRC taskforce is clearly a serious matter; taking specialist advice is strongly recommended.

The team at Field Fisher Waterhouse has significant experience of advising individuals on these sensitive and complex issues. 

 

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