HMRC clamps down on tax-dodgers

Half a million people will be receiving notice of penalties in the post this week for failing to submit their self-assessment tax returns.

The HMRC penalty is £900 in daily fines in addition to £300, or 5% of the tax due, whichever is greatest, totalling at least £1,200. The deadline for online submissions was February 2 this year, with paper returns required by October.

A HMRC statement said: “We want the returns, not the penalties. This year, half a million more people have filed their return - which means we are issuing 44% fewer penalties.”

“But despite several reminders, nearly 6% of people have not sent their 2010/11 tax returns to us and they will be getting a penalty.”

Meanwhile, three Blackburn entrepreneurs have found themselves behind bars after failing to pay VAT to the tune of £4.5m.

Alan Lee, HMRC Director of Criminal Investigation said: “HMRC officers identified suspicious trading between several north-west companies in 2006 and 2007. Their customers were paying VAT on items they bought but the metal traders were not declaring it.

“They simply pocketed the cash for their own personal gain. Tax fraud and attempts to launder the proceeds of crime are treated extremely seriously by HMRC, and we will relentlessly pursue any individuals or crime gangs believed to be attacking the Public Revenue in this way.”

In court, HMRC evidence proved that Shabir Karim, 41, was the principal controller who orchestrated the trading and he was assisted by accomplices Kamran, 41, and Imran, 38, Bhatti. A fourth man involved, Raymond Bowden, 69, of Altrincham in Cheshire absconded during the trial and was found guilty in his absence – a bench warrant has been issued for his arrest and he will be sentenced when found.

The jailed men, who were all found guilty of cheating the revenue, will be disqualified as directors and subject to Crime Prevention Orders upon release. They also face Proceeds of Crime assessments.