TAX cheats in the South West who try to reclaim VAT fraudulently are being targeted as part of an HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) taskforce.
HMRC has seen an increased risk of fraudulent VAT repayment claims in the South West, in particular businesses being set up purely for the purpose of making false VAT repayments claims.
The VAT repayment taskforce – targeted at individuals and businesses across the South West including Devon – aims to tackle this and recover £3.8 mil lion in South West England and South Wales. The taskforce is a specialist team that undertakes intensive bursts of activity in specific high-risk trade sectors and locations in the UK. The team visits traders to examine their records and carry out other investigations.
David Gauke, exchequer secretary to the Treasury, said: "We are determined to support hardworking people who want to get on, but the people being targeted by these taskforces have no intention of playing by the rules. This Government has made it clear that we will not tolerate tax evasion and has provided HMRC with the resources to crack down on those who break the rules."
HMRC has collected more than £100 million as a result of taskforces launched since 2011. It expects to bring in over £90 million a year from taskforces launched over the next three years.
HMRC's Jennie Granger, director general of Enforcement and Compliance, said: "Deliberately falsifying VAT records is serious. It is really important that we level the playing field by stopping tax cheats. Our message is: do the right thing. If you haven't already, come clean now. If you don't, we will find you, investigate you and, not only could you face a heavy fine, but you may face a criminal prosecution as well."
Other taskforces have been launched to tackle tax evasion in the South of England in the road transport industry and through hidden wealth. You can HMRC about anyone who is evading their taxes by calling the Tax Evasion Hotline on 0800 788 887.