In October last year I wrote about the expansion of HMRC's "Affluent Unit":
"Much has been made by some, eg Danny "Beaker" Alexander, about the expansion of HMRC's "Affluent Unit" (the team set up in October 2011 that targets tax evasion by "wealthy" people - those worth more than £1M).However, despite all the puff and bluster of Beaker, nothing tangible has thus far been done by HMRC to recruit these extra 100 inspectors.
Beaker said the other week that an extra 100 inspectors and specialists will be recruited to scrutinise the tax affairs of the 500,000 wealthiest people in the country."
Fear not HMRC have realised that they actually now need to back up Beaker's words with some action, on Wednesday this week HMRC announced that they will begin recruiting the extra 100 inspectors. Adverts, allegedly, will start to appear at the end of this month (some 4/5 months or so after Beaker made his announcement, there's dynamism for you!).
Oh, and by the way, could someone please tell me why HMRC simply doesn't merge the "Affluent Unit" with its "High Net Worth Unit"; thus saving money and resources and focusing its skills/knowledge in one single department?
Here is HMRC's announcement in full (I am gemused to see that the definition of wealthy people targeted covers many of our elected representatives!):
"The tax team dedicated to ensuring the better off play by the rules is set to expand, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) said today.
The Affluent Compliance Team is to begin recruitment of 100 additional inspectors as the work of the unit expands.
In addition to taxpayers with an annual income of more than £150,000 and wealth of between £2.5 million and £20 million, the unit will also cover those with wealth in the range £1 million to £2.5 million.
By the end of December the unit had brought in an extra £75 million in tax - well ahead of expectations – with a target of £586 million by the end of 2015.
Exchequer Secretary David Gauke said:
“HMRC set up the new Affluent Teams from some of the £917 million we made available in 2010. The team has made a great start by bringing in £75 million in additional tax that would otherwise have been lost to the country.
“The vast majority of people pay their way. Dodging tax is immoral, illegal and unaffordable and the minority who cheat are increasingly finding that, thanks to the work of the Affluent Team, they have made a big mistake.”
Roger Atkinson, Director of the Affluent Teams, said:
“In September 2012 the Government announced an additional investment of £5 million, enabling us to recruit an extra 100 inspectors. We will recruit from within HMRC and externally and the new team will be fully operational by April and focused on delivering an additional £75 million a year.
“We want to recruit people with external experience and appropriate qualifications for inspector and lead case director roles. We want people with recent commercial and corporate experience in personal tax to help us understand our customer base. This is an exciting opportunity to work at the forefront, tackling those who do not pay the right tax.
“Good quality intelligence is central to catching the cheats and so we are expanding our Affluent Intelligence Unit fourfold.
“This is very good news for all honest taxpayers.”
Notes for editors
1. The affluent population covers those with income over £150,000 or wealth between £2.5 and £20 million, consisting of about 300,000 people.
2. The team currently has 200 staff based in17 teams in six locations across the UK.
3. Common characteristics of the Affluent Compliance Team’s targets:
Wealthy people who
-habitually use avoidance schemes
-have a low effective Rate of Tax across their total income
-have bank accounts in Switzerland who appear to be understating their tax liability
-fail to file their Self Assessment return on time
-avoid or evade Stamp Duty on property purchases
-have UK and offshore property portfolios
4. Adverts for the 100 additional inspectors will appear towards the end of January."
Tax does have to be taxing.
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