The number of dawn raids carried out by HMRC on individuals and businesses dropped last year, according to data published by law firm Pinsent Masons.
HMRC raided 1,082 homes and businesses in 2018/19 as part of criminal investigations into tax evasion. However, the number of unannounced visits was down from the 1,482 recorded in 2017/18.
The number of raids is falling as the tax authority has access to more targeted information, according to Pinsent Masons. The law firm said that HMRC has gained ‘unprecedented access’ to data on taxpayers in recent years, which has allowed it to target its raids more effectively.
HMRC now receives annual data from over 100 tax authorities worldwide through the Common Reporting Standard. It can also use production orders and a range of other powers to require accountants and banks to hand over documents.
Commenting on the data, Andrew Sackey, Partner at Pinsent Masons, said: ‘These days, if HMRC has taken the decision that it is necessary to raid a property, they are likely to already be armed with an abundance of data from multiple sources that will allow them to narrow the target of their search.
‘Escaping the tax authority’s net is harder than it has ever been and the Fraud Investigation Service is already making repeated use of the new corporate criminal offence which criminalises companies for failing to prevent their staff from facilitating others to commit a tax fraud, even if the companies were entirely unaware of it.’