HMRC’s new ‘intelligence led’ taskforce will specifically target the alcohol industry in Scotland, including Aberdeen and Inverness, and will focus both on alcohol manufacturers and retailers.
Andy Brown, Head of Tax Litigation and Disputes at DWF, commented:
“HMRC has confirmed to DWF that the taskforce has been established as a result of it identifying a specific risk of under-declaration of tax in Scotland within this sector.
“The focus of the taskforce differs from that of HMRC’s National Alcohol Fraud Strategy, which was introduced on 1 April 2010 to recover lost excise duty and penalise those trading in illicit alcoholic drinks – regardless of where they are discovered in the supply chain, as all taxes across the board will be under scrutiny.
“Intensive investigations will be undertaken by the taskforce, involving site visits and the examination of business records, to proactively target companies it believes to be breaking the rules. It is anticipated that £4 million of unpaid tax will be recovered as a result of this sector specific and regionally focused investigation.
“While David Gauke, the Exchequer Secretary, acknowledged that “the vast majority of people play by the rules”, he stressed that tax evasion will not be tolerated and HMRC will be actively pursuing those who choose to go against regulations.
“This is the 30th taskforce to be launched since May 2011, demonstrating HMRC’s determination to reach its target of raising an additional £7 billion each year in unpaid taxes by 2014/15.
“The alcohol industry is big business and while the bulk of unpaid taxes in the industry is arguably caused by a relatively small number of businesses operating fraudulently, the launch of the new taskforce indicates that HMRC believes a significant amount of additional revenue can be generated from this sector.”