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Levelling the playing field: tackling tax fraud in the Scottish fishing industry

Press Release   •   Jul 10, 2013 10:19 BST

A taskforce tackling tax dodgers in the fishing industry in Scotland was launched today by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).

The taskforce will cover all areas of the Scottish fishing industry, including tax evasion by crews, fishing vessel owners and fish processors. It is expected to recover £3.6 million from tax dodgers.

The taskforce will target offenders by using all intelligence and third party information sources available to HMRC.

HMRC will also work closely with Police Scotland, Immigration Enforcement, Border Force and the Gangmasters Licensing Authority in a multi-agency approach to identify occurrences of migrant labour abuse either through fraudulent access to benefits and public services or by exploitative employers.

David Gauke, the Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, said:

“The vast majority of people working in the Scottish fishing industry are law-abiding people who pay the right taxes at the right time but their livelihoods are often undermined by those who do not play by the rules. We are determined to support those hardworking people who want to get on in this industry and every other. However, the people being targeted by this taskforce have no intention of playing by the rules. The Government has made it clear that we will not tolerate tax evasion and we have provided HMRC with the resources to crack down on those who break the rules.“

HMRC has collected more than £80 million as a result of taskforces launched in 2011-12. It expects to bring in over £90 million per year from taskforces launched over the next three years.

 HMRC’s Jennie Granger, Director General Enforcement and Compliance, said:

“Our message is clear - if you seek to evade tax or defraud the tax system, HMRC can and will track you down. You will face not only a heavy fine, but possibly a criminal prosecution as well.

“Collaboration with other Government departments and agencies will mean there is a co-ordinated approach to risks in this industry.”

HMRC taskforces tackling tax evasion in the holiday industry in Blackpool, the Lake District and North Wales, Devon and Cornwall, Isles of Scilly, Somerset and South Wales, restaurants in Lincolnshire and Tyneside, and road hauliers in Milton Keynes, Oxford and Northampton were also launched today.

Taskforces are specialist teams that undertake intensive bursts of activity in specific high risk trade sectors and locations in the UK. The teams may visit traders to examine their records and carry out other investigations.

If you know anyone who is evading their taxes, you can tell HMRC via the Tax Evasion Hotline by phone, on 0800 788 887, by email or by post.

Notes for editors

1.  Taskforces bring together various HMRC compliance and enforcement teams for intensive bursts of activity targeted at specific sectors and locations where there is evidence of high risk of tax evasion and fraud.

2.  The taskforce will target offenders by using all intelligence and third party information sources available to HMRC.

3.  HMRC has launched 43 taskforces since 2011. A further 27 are planned for 2013-14 and 30 for 2014-15.

4.  Taskforces are a result of the Government’s £917 million spending review investment to tackle tax evasion, avoidance and fraud from 2011-12, which aims to raise an additional £7 billion each year by 2014-15.

5.  Follow HMRC on Twitter @HMRCgovuk

6.  HMRC’s flickr channel www.flickr.com/hmrcgovuk

Issued by HM Revenue & Customs Press Office

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is the UK’s tax authority.

HMRC is responsible for making sure that the money is available to fund the UK’s public services and for helping families and individuals with targeted financial support.