HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) issued a record number of court orders to seize company assets in 2016, indicating that the tax office will happily pursue all businesses suspected of tax evasion.
The figures, published by Funding Options, show that the Revenue issued 3,900 applications to wind-up firms with outstanding tax bills in 2016 – an increase of 12 per cent on the previous year.
Of these orders, it successfully seized the assets of 2,065 businesses, representing a 53 per cent success rate.
Conrad Ford, CEO of Funding Options, said: “Shutting a company down is the biggest weapon in HMRC’s arsenal, but it’s one the taxman is using more and more.”
HMRC is facing increasing pressure from the public to crack down on tax evasion. Events in 2016, when Google was alleged to have owed close to £600 million in unpaid taxes, sparked HMRC to launch a dedicated tax fraud and evasion hotline last month.
At the time, Jennie Granger, HMRC’s director general for customer compliance, said: “Information provided by the public is a crucial element of HMRC’s work to close the tax gap, so it’s vital that the reporting process is as simple and accessible as possible.
“The HMRC Fraud Hotline will form an important part of our intelligence gathering operations to bring in more money for the exchequer and the country.
“We encourage the public to continue to work with us and report any suspected fraud or evasion to us for investigation.”
The Revenue said it received 113,000 reports from the public providing information to the department.
It is also an unfortunate truth that it is small businesses who are most likely to be on the receiving end of HMRC’s assault.
Here at George Hay we understand the importance of tax when it comes to planning and having financial control of your business, but we also recognise the countless complexities associated with the tax system. Our experts have years of experience when it comes to dealing with both personal and business tax enquiries and investigations, helping our clients to reach a satisfactory conclusion and leaving them with peace of mind when it comes to their tax affairs.