Covid-19 Fraudbusters: The Taxpayer Protection Taskforce

In the March 2021 Budget the Chancellor of The Exchequer announced the creation of a new HMRC Fraud Taskforce, backed by £100m in new funds, to investigate anyone suspected of the cheating the government’s Covid-19 support schemes.

Special Tax Taskforces are teams of specialist tax investigators that carry out intensive bursts of tax compliance activity in specific areas that the taxmen see as particularly “high risk” in terms of evaded tax. The new Taxpayer Protection Taskforce will have a massive team of about 1,000 tax investigators, and will investigate individuals and businesses suspected of fraudulently claiming money through the use of schemes such as Furlough and the Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS).

The Covid-19 Fraudbusters Taskforce is one of the largest single responses ever by the taxman to fraud risk. The tax authority has already started 10,000 enquiries into suspected fraudulent activity: some of which are criminal investigations. HMRC have also set up a Covid Fraud Hotline.

In October 2020, the National Audit Office reported on the massive financial exposure to the government of support schemes such as Bounce Back Loans, through both fraud or businesses being unable to repay the loans. Fraudulent activity has included businesses who claimed to furlough more people than they actually employed, and claiming furlough grants for staff who actually continued working.

What does this mean for me?
If you are an employer who has claimed under the CJRS, or a business that got a Bounce Back Loan: you should take steps to check that all of the claims are valid. If any errors are spotted, they should be reported to HMRC as soon as possible. You will also have to repay the overclaimed grant. If you do not take early steps to sort this out you could be investigated: possibly on criminal lines.

How can Lynam Tax Disclosure Experts Help?
Lynam Tax Disclosure Experts have a vast amount of experience in dealing with disclosures to HMRC and investigations by the taxman. We can help review your situation, manage any necessary disclosures, and negotiate around penalties.

For a free initial consultation call today:
Paul Lynam: 0845 643 9997
Andrew Nutbrown: 0771 877 8710