HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has launched a campaign to target and crack down on suspected fraudulent tax credit claims from the self-employed.
Letters have started to land on the doorsteps of 12,000 self-employed people who are claiming tax credits. HMRC teams have been examining tax credit awards being paid to the self-employed and are writing to any whose claims may not be genuine or accurate. They are asked to contact the department and supply evidence to support their claims.
Failure to tell HMRC promptly of any changes in income can result in overpayment, which means that claimants have to pay back the money. They could also face a penalty and, in the case of deliberate fraud, criminal prosecution and imprisonment.
As part of a wider government crackdown, HMRC and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) have published a strategy designed to tackle error and fraud in benefits and credits.
Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury David Gauke said:
“HMRC is determined to take a tough approach to targeting possible fraud among tax credit claimants. Last year the Government launched radical proposals to reduce the billions lost to tax credit error and fraud every year. These losses are unaffordable and unacceptable.”
HMRC will now use credit reference agencies and data-matching to spot patterns of fraud. The department is also employing additional investigators and are examining each claim in high-fraud areas.
Notes to editors
1. For information on the Government’s Fraud and Error strategy for benefits and tax credits see fraudanderrorstrategy.
2. Some 675,000 tax credit awards (8.9 per cent) in 2008/09 had errors relating to income. The potential size of the loss is £145m.
3. For general tax credits information: http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/taxcredits/index.htm.
4. Help and advice is also available from the tax credits helpline on 0845 300 3900.
5. For tax credits statistics: http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/stats/personal-tax-credits/menu.htm.
6. Follow HMRC on Twitter at: @HMRCgovuk
Issued by HM Revenue & Customs Press Office
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