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HMRC Steps Up Property Raids In Anti-Avoidance Crackdown

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The number of property raids carried out by HM Revenue and Customs as part of its crackdown on tax evasion jumped by 12 percent in the last year, according to data obtained by Pinsent Masons.

The international law firm says that the number of raids rose from 445 in 2012-13 to 500 in 2013-14. This is more than triple the number undertaken in each year between 2008 and 2011. Raids are often carried out early in the morning, with HMRC's object being to seize as many documents and computers as quickly as possible.

The teams undertaking property raids have the right to search individuals, and many have the power to make arrests without the presence of a police officer or the need to seek an arrest warrant. HMRC's target is to prosecute 1,165 people for tax evasion in 2014-15, five times more than its 2010 target of 250 prosecutions.

Jason Collins, Head of Tax at Pinsent Masons, said: "Even though the value of the tax evaded in those cases is relatively low, HMRC is keen to pursue those cases to the bitter end as a deterrent to other tax evaders. There has always been the problem that tax evaders don't live in fear of HMRC. These raids and arrests are designed to give all tax evaders sleepless nights."

Collins added: "Raiding properties is partly about HMRC demonstrating the police-style powers that it has in a dramatic show of force. HMRC wants to send a very clear signal to individuals and businesses that evading tax has very serious consequences."