Tax raid jump as evasion crackdown intensifies

The head of tax at national legal firm Pinsent Masons said HMRC is “casting its net wider” as it pursues both the country’s biggest tax evaders and smaller cases, often bankers and lawyers, to “the bitter end”.

Mr Collins said it was HMRC’s growing desire to deter other tax evaders that contributed to a “sharp jump” in property raids over the past year, up from 445 to 500.

He added: “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.”

As part of a crackdown on the unlawful use of offshore schemes, HMRC has proposed to introduce a new “strict liability” offence for those failing to disclose offshore income, making it easier for the taxman to get a warrant to raid properties.

Mr Collins has argued that clients who believe they may fall foul of the rules to take advantage of amnesties that now exist in several tax jurisdictions, which provide immunity for individuals who come forward and declare their tax arrangements in full.