Tax warning issued as Britons urged to ‘pay bills on time’ in HMRC crackdown

Britons are being warned that they must “pay their bills on time” as HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) ramps up its investigations of taxpayers.

Data from the tax authority has revealed that there have been 21 percent more enquiries around tax issues in the last two years.

HMRC opened up 52,000 additional enquiries over the previous 24 months which is a rise of 100 extra every day.

Some 299,000 tax enquiries were opened up by the Government body in the 2022/23 tax year alone.

This is partially because the Treasury is attempting to raise tax receipts as it escalates its compliance activity.

Data from HMRC’s quarterly performance updates highlight that the number of tax enquiries jumped from 247,000 in the 2020/21 financial year to 265,000 in 2021/22.

The following year saw a similar dramatic increase of 299,000 which means a 21.05 percent increase across these years.

Thanks to this jump in compliance activity, HMRC was able to generate £814billion in tax revenue last year.

This represents an increase of 11.3 percent compared to the year before which suggests the tax authority will continue on its current path.

Experts are sounding the alarm that small businesses and freelancers are more likely to be hit by this apparently more aggressive approach by HMRC.

Seb Maley, the CEO of tax insurance provider Qdos, noted that self-employed Britons are currently in the firing line.

He explained: “HMRC is clearly on a mission to increase tax receipts and we’re seeing first-hand experience of this.

“The number of self-employed workers being investigated by the tax office is noticeably on the rise.

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“A far more active HMRC means that anyone working for themselves – whether a full-time freelancer or someone with a side hustle – should make sure they file their tax returns and pay their bills on time, as the bare minimum.”

The tax expert warned that it is not just freelancers and other self-employed businesses that could come under scrutiny by the tax authority.

“But this is just a starting point. What’s often overlooked is that HMRC can investigate anyone at any time.

“You can never rule out a tax enquiry and all too often, people who have done nothing wrong are investigated. Without representation and protection, this can be a really stressful and expensive process.”

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