New data shows that HMRC collected a record high of over £39 billion from tax investigations in the year to December 31 2023, up 22% from £32 billion in 2022, says national accountancy group UHY Hacker Young.

Commenting on this, UHY Hacker Young corporate tax partner, Nikhil Oza, said that HMRC has stepped up its investigations into areas where it believes it is missing out on large amounts of unpaid tax, including:

  • Ultra-high net worth individuals suspected of underpaying tax – such as the Bernie Ecclestone investigation that brought in £653m in tax and penalties
  • Cryptocurrency traders not properly declaring their gains for tax purposes – where it has started a new campaign of enquiries
  • Residential landlords not declaring income properly – where its Let Property Campaign is pushing landlords to confess tax evasion
  • Large multinational businesses being too aggressive with ‘transfer pricing’ – cross-border payments between companies in a group than can be used to reduce corporation tax bills in the UK
  • Businesses claiming Research and Development tax relief that they aren’t entitled to

Oza said: “HMRC is getting tougher and cracking down on unpaid tax across the board – and these figures show it’s working.”

“Any business or individual with unpaid tax needs to be aware that their chances of getting away with it are lower than they’ve ever been. HMRC is deploying more technology, including AI to catch them and the Government is happy to fund more investigations.”

“Taking professional advice and then coming clean to HMRC will virtually always result in a better outcome than hoping HMRC doesn’t spot your non-compliance, especially as voluntary disclosures yield lower penalties.”

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By GlobalData