Enforcement agencies combined forces to swoop on suspected tax evaders in Blackpool last week (11 July).
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) led Operation Targeted Traders, linked to the leisure and holiday industry, in the resort. During the activity, supported by Blackpool Council Trading Standards and Lancashire Constabulary, HMRC officers visited 60 premises, checking that they were trading legitimately.
Chris Brett, HMRC’s Blackpool Taskforce leader, said:
“This is part of wider HMRC taskforce activity launched this week, concentrating on caravan parks, hotels, B&Bs, pubs, takeaways, restaurants, and licensed grocers in Blackpool, the Lake District and North Wales. Working with our partners to share intelligence, 60 traders had their businesses spot-checked.
“Evading tax is a deliberate decision by some people not to pay the tax that they know is due. Our intelligence suggests that there is a significant risk of under-declaration of income in the leisure and holiday sector in Blackpool. This deprives the community of funds and gives dishonest traders an unfair advantage over legitimate businesses.
“If you are know of someone evading their taxes, you can call HMRC’s Tax Evasion Hotline on 0800 788 887.”
Councillor Gillian Campbell, Cabinet Member for Public Protection and Housing, said:
“Millions of families will visit Blackpool this summer spending their hard-earned cash on accommodation, food and entertainment. It is wholly unacceptable for traders to be receiving this money if they are breaking the law on a daily basis by evading tax.
“Our message is clear – if you can’t operate within the law, we don’t want you in Blackpool. I’m sure that these raids will result in some businesses closing down but as far as I’m concerned that can only be a good thing, both for the customers that use them and for the other traders who work legitimately.”
Chief Inspector Ian Mills said:
“Lancashire Constabulary fully supports HMRC in this operation and we will be providing a police presence when needed. Tax evasion, at any level, is an offence that is taken extremely seriously and we have been working together with HMRC to help protect the public and bring offenders to justice.”
Taskforces are specialist teams that undertake intensive bursts of activity in specific high risk trade sectors and locations in the UK. The teams visit traders to examine their records and carry out other investigations.
HMRC and the other agencies involved will now consider further action against offenders, including full tax and VAT investigations and a review of alcohol and other trading licenses.
Notes for editors
1. Initial results from the Blackpool taskforce visits last week include:
- 1,164 litres of beer and spirits have been seized from licensed premises. One wholesaler issued with a closure notice for breaching licensing rules. Two licence holders face reviews and potential revocation of their licences.
- 34 national minimum wage visits undertaken to protect underpaid employees and 15 offence notices issued to employers. All cases will be followed up.
- 12 food hygiene notices issued to takeaways, hotels or B&Bs. One faces possible prosecution for food hygiene breaches.
- 25 Health & Safety statutory notices issued to traders.
- one prohibition notice was issued regarding 10 units in a “House of Multiple Occupancy” involving public safety issues around fire detection and separation. One pub may also face possible prosecution around four housing units that do not appear to have planning permission.
- four council tax fraud offences.
- one housing benefit fraud – all benefits will be frozen with immediate effect pending enquiries.
- 16 commercial vehicles checked for fuel duty evasion (such as red diesel misuse).
- two seizures of counterfeit goods and one seizure of unsafe goods
- 60 premises visited.
3. HMRC has launched 43 taskforces since 2011. A further 27 are planned for 2013-14 and 30 for 2014-15.
4. Taskforces have been made possible by 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. In total 5,641 litres of alcohol were seized during the operation - 5,177 litres of beer, 272 litres of wine and 192 litres of spirits.
5. People who are aware of someone who is evading their taxes can tell HMRC via the Tax Evasion Hotline by phone, on 0800 788 887, by email or by post. Full details can be found at www.hmrc.gov.uk
6. Follow HMRC on Twitter at: @hmrcgovuk
7. 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.