HMRC launches landlord tax crackdown

by Daniel Jones

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is launching a crackdown on landlord tax in Scotland. It will not affect those who legally avoid tax, as the scheme is aimed at illegal tax evasion, which is a very different thing.

The revenue has established a new taskforce to tackle landlord tax evasion north of the Border. It is the latest in a series of such teams set up to deal with tax compliance in specific industries.

Danny Alexander, chief secretary to the Treasury, said: "It is not right that some landlords in Scotland have chosen to deliberately evade the taxes they should be paying. This is not fair on honest businesses and HMRC will come down hard on those who have chosen to break the rules.

"If you deliberately seek to evade tax, HMRC can and will track you down and you'll face not only a heavy fine, but possibly a criminal prosecution as well."

Neil Whyte, a tax partner with accountants and business advisers PKF, told the UK Press Association that the task force is a sign that the government is working hard to recoup lost taxes from all sectors. He noted that some landlords will have thought their income from rental property would have been difficult to trace.

"However, I expect HMRC is working closely with the land registry and taking an active interest in individuals who own several properties and have sold property in recent years," added Mr Whyte.

Edinburgh and Glasgow, two places that have seen strong growth in the buy-to-let sector, are likely to be the focus of the investigation, he added.

The HMRC task forces are the result of the government's £900 million spending review re-investment to tackle tax evasion, avoidance and fraud, which aims to raise an additional £7 billion each year by 2014/15. Landlords can, however, continue to find ways to avoid taxes on their rental income.

Published on: February 27, 2012

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