HMRC’s continued aggressive approach to reduce the tax gap

HMRC are looking to close the tax gap – and small businesses are on their radar. The tax gap is the amount that should be collected by HMRC, and currently stands at £36 billion, although it’s at its smallest in more than ten years. Our Accountants in Bolton have certain procedures they can carry out to ensure you aren’t in HMRC’s sight.

The Government announced in 2015 that they intended to raise £5 billion from companies and individuals – therefore are actively pursuing businesses.

If you think your business is safe, think again – HMRC can investigate any business regardless of whether any fault or not. Even if taxes have been submitted correctly, they may still investigate your business. Our Accountants in Bolton can help by providing you with a full VAT health check.

Around 40% of uncollected taxes are because of; “Failure to take care reasonable care”, “Error” or a “Legal interpretation”, with only 27% of cases down to “Criminal activities” or “Evasion”.

If you consider your tax affairs as well-presented or in good order HMRC could still raise an enquiry about your business. They have various sources including “Connect database” which can utilise data from public and private sources to build a picture of your lifestyle.

HMRC’s approach is often particularly harsh. In a recent case that our VAT team were advising upon, we investigated and found that the rating applied by HMRC was particularly harsh.

After querying, and advising the client, it led to a reversal on areas of HMRC’s re-rating, and meant the client no longer having to pay back in excess of £100,000. At CHW our VAT specialist team can carry out full VAT reviews, VAT health checks or pre-inspection health checks to identify issues and disputes before HMRC step into investigate.

As a business owner this is a worrying time, as HMRC are on the hunt for anything to help reduce the tax gap. If they do come knocking, investigations can be extremely expensive – it’s important to make sure you’ve got tax investigation protection in place.

Our Accountants in Bolton can help to ensure you have the correct procedures in place so if and when HMRC come knocking you’ll be covered. Read more about our VAT health checks.


This article is for general guidance only. It provides an outline, and may not include points which are important to your situation. You should not depend on this blog without taking advice based on the full facts of your case. The information given was correct at the time of publication.

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