‘Affluent’ taxpayers unit manpower increased by HMRC
Accountancy firm Moore Stephens has noted how the wage bill for HMRC's Affluent Unit inspectors rose 68%, from £7.8m to £13.1m, across the time period 2012/13 to 2014/15.
Over the same period, the specialist unit's headcount increased by 54%, from 213 to 327, as part of increased efforts by the authority to tackle tax avoidance crackdown.
£150,000 per year
The unit was set up in 2011 with the brief of investigating taxpayers whose incomes are above £150,000 per year. There is also another department, the High Net Worth Unit, which also looks into the affairs of wealthier taxpayers.
The extra expenditure on staff comes after the unit collected an extra £137.2m in tax arising from probes and investigations it undertook in 2013/14, an increase from £85.7m over the previous 12 months.
According to Moore Stephens, HMRC is looking carefully at a broad group of taxpayers, not simply high net worth individuals.
The firm lists several factors that can attract the attention of the unit, including overseas property, bank accounts held offshore, significant UK property holdings, an unusually low tax rate on total income and late returns of self-assessments.
Anyone previously involved in a tax planning scheme could also be a focus for the unit.
Partner at Moore Stephens Dominic Arnold said: "This increase in headcount at the Affluent Unit is a clear indication that HMRC intends to squeeze more tax out of a wider group of taxpayers."
"The tax affairs of many of the taxpayers who are investigated by the Affluent Unit will be perfectly in order. Some of the measures HMRC uses to determine who faces scrutiny can be quite crude," he added.