HMRC’s enforcement of wealthy taxpayers on the rise

In recent developments, the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has seen a notable decrease in the number of civil investigation cases against offshore, corporate, and wealthy taxpayers.

Over the last five years, the figures have more than halved, with cases dropping from 1,417 in the 2018-19 fiscal year to 627 in 2022-23.

This reduction has sparked criticism and concerns regarding the effectiveness of HMRC’s enforcement capabilities.

HMRC defends its position by emphasising a strategic pivot towards focusing on the most significant instances of tax fraud.

The authority highlights its comprehensive compliance activity, with 300,000 compliance interventions in the 2022-23 fiscal year, aimed at a wide array of tax risks including evasion and avoidance, securing £34bn in additional tax revenue.

Despite the decrease in specific civil and criminal enforcement actions, HMRC asserts that it has been maintaining a high tax collection rate, successfully gathering 95 per cent of all taxes due in the UK.

This consistency suggests a stable enforcement environment, despite the evolving strategic focus.

For businesses, this shift underscores the importance of maintaining stringent compliance with tax laws and regulations.

To remain compliant and navigate the complexities of the tax system, businesses should consider the following strategies:

  • Regular review and compliance checks: Businesses must regularly review their tax affairs and compliance processes to ensure they align with current laws and HMRC guidelines. This proactive approach can help identify potential issues before they escalate into significant concerns.
  • Transparency and disclosure: HMRC values transparency. Companies should ensure full and accurate disclosure of their tax positions, especially concerning offshore activities and complex corporate structures. Transparency can often mitigate the risk of penalties in case of inadvertent errors.
  • Engagement with tax advisers: The UK tax code’s complexity necessitates expert guidance. Engaging with tax advisers or consultants can provide businesses with up-to-date advice on tax planning and compliance, helping them navigate changes in tax legislation and enforcement practices.
  • Investment in compliance infrastructure: Investing in robust tax compliance software and systems can streamline reporting processes, improve accuracy, and reduce the risk of non-compliance due to human error.
  • Education and training: Businesses should invest in ongoing education and training for their finance and tax teams to keep them informed about the latest tax laws and HMRC practices.

By adopting a comprehensive and strategic approach to tax compliance, you can navigate these challenges effectively, ensuring you meet HMRC’s tax obligations and minimise the risk of adverse findings in any future HMRC investigations.

Protect yourself with our Tax Investigation Service

If you are concerned about the potential for a tax investigation or would like protection from future enquiries, then you should consider our dedicated Tax Investigation Service.  

If you sign up for this, we are insured in respect of fees up to £100,000 incurred in representing you in the event of any compliance check, visit or investigation started by HMRC regarding compliance.

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