The number of “raids” (i.e. uninvited search and seize operations), carried out by HM Revenue and Customs – aimed at securing evidence of criminal prosecutions – has increased significantly in the last five years, according to a report in Accountancy Age 8 August 2017.
In the year 2016/17, HMRC tax investigators carried out 669 raids, compared to 499 in 2011/12: an increase of 34%.
HMRC raids are highly coordinated – with dozens and sometimes hundreds of HMRC officers arriving at private homes and business premises at the same time (typically 7am), in order to catch the occupiers unaware; serve the warrant; search for evidence of tax evasion; seize that evidence; log it; bag it; and remove it. Frequently the suspected tax fraudsters are arrested on the same day, and taken to a police station for questioning. If the tax inspectors find sufficient evidence during the search, they may charge the suspect that day also.
Raids can be traumatic for the suspect, their families and their staff; and can be highly disruptive to business operations– particularly when computers are seized. HMRC can only carry out an uninvited search if it has a warrant signed by a judge. But armed with a valid search warrant the tax inspectors can enter premises “by force if necessary”. Obstructing an authorised search is a criminal offence. HMRC are usually accompanied by uniformed police officers; often causing intrigued gossip amongst the neighbours.
The increase in search and seize operations is not surprising, given HMRC’s stated aim of substantially increasing the number of tax prosecutions.
How Could Lynam Tax Enquiry Experts Help Me?
We have decades of extensive practical experience in managing tax disclosures and tax fraud investigations. If you have irregularities in your tax affairs we can advise you on your best course of action. If appropriate, we will help you with any disclosure. If you are already under criminal investigation we can assist your legal team in the preparation of the defence case. We can help get the best possible outcome for you, your business and your family.
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