PAYE umbrella contractors working in the South East may be feeling distinctly relieved that they did not choose to work through limited companies in the light of a tough new ‘hit squad’ approach from HMRC to anyone it suspects of dodging tax in the region.

The Revenue has announced the launch of twelve dedicated taskforces to hunt down the region’s tax dodgers after the government raised concerns that too many people in the area were failing to submit tax returns. The first of the new hit squads was launched in May, with the remainder being rolled out over the coming tax year. HMRC’s South East region SME Business Unit Head, Darren Boston, didn’t mince his words. The taskforces, he insisted, would “come down and fast on those who have chosen to break the rules and deliberately evade the taxes they should be paying by not submitting their returns.”

People who know they have tax to pay but have chosen not to submit their tax declarations will be targeted, he said.

“Coming down hard” doesn’t mean a slap on the wrist – HMRC is promising not only heavy fines, but public ‘naming and shaming’ and even criminal prosecutions, too.

Speaking to the news outlet Shout99, tax expert Mike Down, said “HMRC…will be more lenient on those who own up. However tax defaulters caught out by the new teams can expect to suffer the full force of HMRC’s new powers and penalties regime.”

Limited company contractors may wish consult a specialist accountancy service to ensure their accounts are in order. No one wants a hit squad arriving at their front door.

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