In a recent press release, HMRC have confirmed that their Fraud Investigation Service (FIS) has collected over £1 billion from the proceeds and crime and tax offenders since it was established in 2016.

For the past five years, the FIS has been using its civil and criminal enforcement powers to pursue the suspected proceeds of crime. These powers include the ability to seize cash under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and to use account freezing orders and confiscation orders. The FIS can also open criminal investigations where tax evaders have used the HMRC Contractual Disclosure Facility and have failed to make full and frank disclosures.

The FIS has made more than 1,200 seizures of cash and assets including gold bars worth £750,000 hidden in a lunchbox by a passenger at Manchester Airport, £48,000 hidden amongst chicken nuggets in a freezer at a house in Blackpool and £1.7 million taken from a payroll fraudster.

£218 million of the total collected came from the proceeds of crime.

To put this into context, HMRC say that the £1 billion seized would pay for 20,000 NHS nurses for just one year. In 2019, the government promised to increase the number of nurses by 50,000 by 2025. For 2020-21 total tax receipts were reported by HMRC at £608 billion (2019-20 £637bn) meaning the £200 million per year, on average, collected by FIS is less than 0.05% of the total tax collected for 2020-21.

Anyone with information about people or businesses involved in tax fraud can contact the Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887 or Send a report on GOV.UK. Reports sent by post are currently not being accepted under temporary measures introduced due to COVID-19.

Useful guides on this topic

Contractual disclosure facility CDF
HMRC has offered a contractual disclosure facility CDF since 31 January 2012.

Unexplained Wealth Orders
From 31 January 2018, HMRC can require a person to explain the source of their wealth by applying to the High Court for an Unexplained Wealth Order (UWO).

Joint & Several Liability of Company Directors etc
When can Company Directors or LLP Members become jointly and severally liable for company or LLP tax liabilities and penalties? Finance Act 2020 has provided HMRC with wide-ranging new powers. What are the conditions and what are the rights of appeal?

AML: Anti-Money Laundering Procedures and Checks
A subscriber guide to Anti-Money Laundering (AML) procedures and checks, including what factors to consider when taking on a new client and conducting your 'know your client' procedures.

External links

Press release: HMRC fraud squad takes back £1 billion from offenders 

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