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Tax evasion in the restaurant sector

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HMRC’s task forces have targeted tax fraud and unpaid taxes in the restaurant trade at locations across the UK. Investigations are ongoing.

The task forces are comprised of multiple teams from across HMRC including special investigations, local compliance and criminal investigation units for targeting specific sectors and locations where there is a high risk of tax evasion. HMRC have confirmed that a Scottish businessman has recently been charged with tax fraud following an investigation of the fast food trade in Scotland. The targeting of restaurants is not an amnesty and unlike some previous initiatives which sought to tempt taxpayers to come forward under favourable terms there is no formal disclosure facility on offer.

HMRC inspectors will therefore have the full range of civil and criminal sanctions at their disposal. This includes the likelihood of restaurants having to repay any unpaid tax, interest and penalties. The worst offenders are likely to face criminal investigation and prison. The taskforces are part of the Government’s £900m investment to tackle tax evasion, avoidance and fraud. HMRC aim to raise an additional £7bn each year by 2014/15 from this investment.

The taskforces are part of HMRC’s wider remit to tackle evasion and avoidance which includes targeted campaigns including the recently launched tax return initiative. Any business that has deliberately evaded tax should take urgent action to make a pre-emptive voluntary disclosure to HMRC.

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