HMRC targets man in the street, and nets 255m

Investigations launched by HM Revenue & Customs into thousands of self-assessment tax returns has netted £255m in fines and unpaid tax in the past year, research for accountancy group UHY Hacker Young has shown.

This represents a 7 per cent increase in fines and unpaid tax over the year, and highlights a shift by inspectors towards ordinary individuals who could previously have escaped detection.

In the most recent example of HMRC targetting the general public, the firm says HMRC has been focusing on buy-to-let investors in the North-west and Wales. "Although the most headline-grabbing campaigns have centred on high-net-worths, we are seeing an increasing number of investigations into middle earners," said Roy Maugham, of UHY Hacker Young. "These figures show that HMRC is determined to do whatever it can to clamp down on tax avoidance and pursue every opportunity it has to collect more tax." He adds that HMRC is now looking at specific trades: "Those at particular risk of investigations over the next year are doctors, dentists, plumbers, tutors, residential property landlords and anyone in sectors that HMRC see as a bit too "entrepreneurial".