Tax cheats in the North East who try to fraudulently reclaim VAT are being targeted as part of an HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) taskforce.

HMRC has seen an increased risk of fraudulent VAT repayment claims in the North East, in particular businesses being set up purely for the purpose of making false VAT repayments claims.

The VAT repayment taskforce – targeted at individuals and businesses – aims to tackle that and is set to bring in £6 million in the North East and Lincolnshire. A taskforce is also being launched in South Wales and South West England.

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.

David Gauke, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, said:

“We are determined to support hardworking people who want to get on, but the people being targeted by these taskforces have no intention of playing by the rules.

“This Government has made it clear that we will not tolerate tax evasion and has provided HMRC with the resources to crack down on those who break the rules.”

HMRC has collected more than £100 million as a result of taskforces launched since 2011-12. It expects to bring in over £90 million a year from taskforces launched over the next three years.

HMRC’s Jennie Granger, Director General of Enforcement and Compliance, said:
“Deliberately falsifying VAT records is serious. It is really important that we level the playing field by stopping tax cheats. Our message is – do the right thing. If you haven’t already, come clean now. If you don’t, we will find you, investigate you and, not only could you face a heavy fine, but you may face a criminal prosecution as well.”

Other taskforces being launched today to tackle tax evasion will target:

– road transport industry in the South East and South – hidden wealth in the South East and South

If you know anyone who is evading their taxes, you can tell HMRC by calling the Tax Evasion Hotline on 0800 788 887.