VAT CHEATS TARGETED IN CRACKDOWN
July 5 2011.

As part of a campaign launched today aimed at VAT rule-breakers, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) will be sending letters informing businesses how to register to pay what they owe. The new campaign focuses on individuals and businesses trading above the VAT threshold of £73,000 turnover but who have not registered for VAT.

More than 40,000 letters will be sent out over the next few weeks. Under the terms of the VAT Initiative, those who have not registered to pay VAT can come forward any time up to 30 September to tell HMRC that they want to take part. If they make a full disclosure, most face a low penalty rate of 10 per cent on VAT that has been paid late.

They will also be invited to disclose any other tax arrears. Where they have to pay a penalty on undeclared tax other than VAT, this will be lower than the customary penalty of up to 100 per cent charged to those who fall outside the opportunity.

After 30 September, using information pulled together from different sources, HMRC will investigate those who have failed to come forward. Substantial penalties or even criminal prosecution could follow.

Mike Wells, HMRC's Director of Risk and Intelligence, said: "This is our third campaign, raising more than £500m from voluntary disclosures and a further £100m so far from follow-up activity.

"Our campaigns are designed to ensure tax is paid so that the money is available to spend on public services used by everyone.

"The aim is to make it easy for individuals and businesses to contact us, make a full disclosure of their income and face a reduced penalty on any tax owed.

"I urge people who have not registered their businesses for VAT to get in touch with HMRC and get their tax affairs in order simply and on the best available terms."

To use the VAT Initiative people and businesses must:

* Register with HMRC by 30 September to "notify" that they plan to make a voluntary VAT disclosure;

* Tell HMRC about VAT due and make arrangements to pay it, as well as any penalties due, by 31 December.


How to let HMRC know of the intention to make a tax disclosure:

* Online by completing a notification form at http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/ris/vat/  

* Ring HMRC on 0845 600 5217


A dedicated team is available to give information and advice.