HMRC wields ‘dawn raid’ powers to stop tax cheats

HM Revenue and Customs is wielding its powers more to stop tax cheats, according to the latest data, which shows the taxman carried out nearly 700 ‘dawn raids’ over the five years to March.

The figure is up a third, as HMRC has also stepped in to tackle tax evasion by doubling its number of prosecutions from 501 to 1067, the FT reports.

HMRC has the power to search businesses suspected of tax evasion, and can often do so early in the morning or without warning.

Law firm Pinsent Masons head of tax told the FT: “By raiding premises, HMRC not only hopes to be able to seize the proof it needs to build its case, but also to clearly show strength and intent which should act as a deterrent to others.”

High profile businesses including football clubs Newcastle United and West Ham United have been subject to the searches.

New rules could see penalties on financial advisers and other intermediaries for ‘enabling’ tax evasion.