Produced by Tolley in association with Guy Smith of inTAX Ltd
  • 19 Oct 2021 08:17

The following Owner-Managed Businesses guidance note Produced by Tolley in association with Guy Smith of inTAX Ltd provides comprehensive and up to date tax information covering:

  • HMRC taskforces
  • Introduction
  • The blurring of distinction between HMRC initiatives
  • Taskforces launched
  • What will HMRC do on arrival at the business premises?
  • Legislative powers
  • The role of the agent

HMRC taskforces


HMRC taskforces are an initiative aimed at tackling deliberate tax evasion and were first introduced in May 2011.

Taskforces focus on geographically specific business sectors where HMRC suspects high-risk tax evasion is taking place.

Multi-disciplined teams, comprised of direct tax and VAT staff, are often supplemented by Benefits Agency staff looking for benefit fraudsters and, occasionally, police officers and UK Border Agency enforcement officers too. The teams descend on the targeted business sector and ask to see business records and interview staff.

When the initiative was announced, Mike Eland, HMRC’s Director General Enforcement and Compliance, said:

‘These taskforces are a new approach which uses HMRC’s resources to identify rule-breakers and evaders swiftly and effectively. Only those who choose to break the rules, or deliberately evade the tax they should be paying, will be targeted.’

In the years since 2011, HMRC has learned from the early taskforce activity, and the way in which taskforces are launched has changed. Whilst the taskforces have always been intelligence-led, HMRC is now operating a ‘test and learn’ phase before going into a ‘full’ taskforce. The test and learn phases mean that HMRC works on a small number of cases and uses the findings with its Risk and Intelligence Service to refine and improve the case profile in readiness for a full taskforce, which consists of far more cases.

The blurring of distinction between HMRC initiatives

Taskforces have in the past often been confused with campaigns, partly because of the way HMRC had changed the style of press release announcing them and partly because of the way they were picked up in the media.

It is important to note that there is a clear distinction between taskforces and campaigns and that HMRC’s approach to each initiative is entirely different.

Campaigns offer disclosure opportunities for individuals, traders or professionals to come forward and make voluntary declarations of any understated income and / or overstated expenses. Time deadlines are set, during which disclosures have to be notified, quantified and

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